Fired Jasper Police Chief at the Center of a Divide

JASPER, Texas — Three weeks after Rodney Pearson became Jasper County’s first black state highway patrolman, he responded to a call from the Jasper Country Club. As he pulled up to the clubhouse, his partner told him to wait.

“‘You can’t go in here,’” Pearson said his partner told him. “‘Just sit in the car.’”

Only whites were allowed inside. It was 1992.

Despite that jarring first impression, Pearson said there was not a pattern of racism in the town where he would raise his children. That changed nearly two decades later, he said, when he became the first ...

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