Patrick Michels

How a Mayor's Campaign to Keep a Jesus Sign Brought Discord to a God-Fearing East Texas Town

If it hadn’t been for Will Rogers, the East Texas town of Hawkins might still be best known for its annual “Good Ol’ Days Celebration” or the 1995 legislative proclamation that named it the Pancake Capital of Texas. (Lillian Richard, who spent decades portraying Aunt Jemima in Quaker Oats ads, was born here in 1891). Those and other modest distinctions are listed in the town’s promotional brochures that promise “Tranquility… In East Texas.” But in the past few years, since Rogers arrived, tranquility isn’t what has put Hawkins on the map.

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