More than 150 guests turned out to salute former Gov. Mark White at Hughes Hangar as he received the Clarence Darrow Award from the Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association. White, who served as Texas governor from 1983-1987, Texas Attorney General (1979-1983) and Secretary of State (1973-77), was honored for devoting his career to preserving fundamental fairness in the rule of law for everyone, no matter how unpopular or difficult in the tradition of Darrow.
Speakers noted that White changed Texas' education system by instituting "No Pass, No Play" requirements and raised teacher's salaries significantly. He also appointed the first Hispanics to the Texas Supreme Court and other Texas courts and the first African American to serve as Texas Secretary of State.
As his wife, Linda Gale White, son Mark White III, daughter Elizabeth White Russell and husband Seth Russell looked on, White spoke about the importance of doing the right thing and gave a nod to attorney John Raley, along with the Innocence Project, who obtained the release of Michael Morton from prison following a 1987 wrongful conviction in Williamson County.
White, 74, has become a strong advocate for criminal justice and immigration reform. Earlier this year, he wrote an article titled "America's Capital Punishment Crisis" in Politico magazine, urging improvements in the death penalty system.
Music from Willie Nelson, one of White's favorite singers, played throughout the evening as photos of White in earlier years with such notables as Prince Charles, Walter Cronkite, Ann Richards and Nelson flashed on nearby screens.
Among those in the throng were HCDLA president Tim Riley, Harris County Democratic Party chair Lane Lewis, John Odam, Jim Peacock, Harold Landreneau, George Barnstone, Barbara Radnofsky, Chris Bell, Judy and Jim Daughterty, Steven Duble and HCDLA board members Lee Arellano, Sam Houston, Bruce Johnson, Donna Roth, Dion Ramos, Tasso Triantaphyllis and Steve Wisch.