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Other Voices: What Texas editors are saying

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Rice right to face history

Houston Chronicle

To escape the past, you must confront it. That’s the reality Rice University accepted in announcing it would join the growing number of institutions, cities, even nations that have decided to acknowledge the worst in their histories instead of trying to brush it aside.

The university said it would have a task force in place by the fall semester to examine its “past with respect to slavery, segregation, and racial injustice” and explore “how that history may continue to inform and shape the present state of the university.”

That goal, expressed in a joint statement by Rice President David W. Leebron and provost Marie Lynn Miranda, is not only laudable, it is necessary. With it comes the implied admission that the university may need to take additional steps to remedy inequities rooted in its history of racial discrimination.

That history began with the university’s founding in 1912 with funds provided by real estate tycoon William Marsh Rice, who mandated in its charter that the school be for “whites only.”

The university got that part of the charter voided in 1964, arguing in court that segregation made it ineligible for research grants and federal funding. But racism persisted even after the school admitted its first black student in 1965.

Old Rice yearbooks examined after a scandal earlier this year involving Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam when he was a student at Eastern Virginia Medical School showed photos of white Rice students in blackface, wearing Ku Klux Klan garb and otherwise making fun of African Americans.

A subsequent editorial in Rice’s student newspaper, the Thresher, said blackface photos could be found in Rice yearbooks as late as 1988, which meant 17 of Rice’s 26 trustees now attended the university “during a time when overt racism was considered appropriate.” ...

The question of reparations has become a topic in the current presidential campaign, with several Democratic candidates saying they support the idea. You can’t get to reparations, however, without talking about slavery, segregation and why this country has not been successful in dealing with the racism that remains.

There have been noble attempts to force us as a nation to look at our past to determine the right course for our future. The latest example is the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, a 6-acre site with 800 6-foot steel monuments dedicated to the thousands of men and women lynched in the United States. ...

An important step

Amarillo Globe-News

Texas took an important step in its cautious and restrained embrace of marijuana during the recently completed legislative session as lawmakers passed and Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law an expansion of qualifying conditions beneath the umbrella of the 2015 Texas Compassionate Use Program.

Previously, epilepsy was the only condition that could be treated under the state’s medical marijuana program. However, Abbott signed House Bill 3703 last month, and the program now includes patients with autism, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer and incurable neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease. Also eliminated was a provision requiring the approval of two licensed neurologists, rather than one.

The bill maintains the dose restriction of 0.5 percent THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. It was filed by Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, and becomes effective Sept. 1. It passed easily in the House before an amended version passed unanimously in the Senate. The program will be regulated by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and patients seeking to obtain medical cannabis must have it prescribed by a qualified physician.

Expanding conditions that can be treated with cannabis oil was a thoughtful and necessary move without taking Texas down a path other states have chosen concerning marijuana use. All aspects of how medical cannabis may be used are accounted for, and this is a quality-of-life issue for people in the throes of tremendous suffering. ...

Today's Bible verse

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.’ ”

John 8:34

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