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Cherise Smith, Ph.D, Director JES A232A, Mailcode D7200, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-1784

"State of African Americans in Texas" is Focus of Legislative Summit

21st Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium in Austin April 26-27

Posted: April 1, 2007

The government officials will join educators from throughout Texas and advocates for better education for the children of Texas in panel discussions and other activities at the State Capitol, The University of Texas at Austin and the Hilton Austin, 500 East Fourth St.

Sessions are free and open to the public, but registration is required for summit activities. Online registration is available at Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights, or by telephone at 512-232-4850. On-site registration will also be available on both days from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the State Capitol Extension, Room E1.400.

"I would like to thank The University of Texas at Austin for hosting the 'State of African Americans in Texas,"' said State Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Austin. "I look forward to the participation from our constituents from across the state. An informed electorate is an important part of democracy. The better informed our constituents are the better watch guards they become for society as a whole."

Events on April 26 will include discussions at the State Capitol about educational experiences of African American students from kindergarten through college levels and challenges facing African American youth and adults.

Summit highlights on April 27 will include the presentation of the "Outstanding Texan Awards" by U.S. Rep. Al Green of the Congressional District 9 of Texas at 1 p.m. at the Hilton Austin, followed at 4 p.m. by the "State of the State Message" during the general session presented by the Texas Congressional Black Caucus Members in the Extension Auditorium, Room E1.004.

The keynote speech for the 21st Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium will be at 7 p.m. on April 27 in the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center, 2110 San Jacinto Blvd., in a program free and open to the public. Retired Olympic athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a community philanthropist and winner of Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals, will talk about "Bridging Economic Disparity Through Education."

"The summit will bring together members of the African American community to examine issues impacting our community at a grassroots level," said Dr. Gregory Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. "Its purpose is to develop viable recommendations in the areas of education, technology, economic development, health and human services and criminal justice."

The Heman Sweatt Symposium is a long-standing tradition for the university. It celebrates the legacy of Heman Marion Sweatt, who in 1946 was denied admission to The University of Texas at Austin's School of Law on the basis of race. A team of National Association of Colored People (NAACP) lawyers, led by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, represented Sweatt in what became the celebrated Sweatt vs. Painter case. The case paved the way for the admission of African Americans to formerly segregated colleges and universities throughout the United States and led to the abolishment of segregation, by law, in all grades of public education in the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.

For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847; Deb Duval, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, 512-232-7599.

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