One of the first African American graduate students and seven of the early African American undergraduates to attend The University of Texas at Austin were among those honored with a Heman Marion Sweatt Legacy Award on May 6 at the university’s Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. Recipients of the award were honored for embodying the legacy of Heman Marion Sweatt, the first African American to attend The University of Texas School of Law.
Hosted by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, A Special Evening of Honors was the final event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights. Three hundred guests watched as the honorees—21 individuals, four couples and three groups—were congratulated by Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, and Ms. Machree Garrett Gibson, president-elect of the Texas Exes.
The recipients included The Precursors, African American students who attended UT from 1971 and prior. Mr. Fogle, one of the founders of the Precursors and active in the Texas Exes, drove from Houston to accept his award. He said, “It’s a motivating thing and encourages you to want to continue to do more.”
The honorees included Dr. W. Charles Akins, Mr. Gary Bledsoe, Mr. Randy Bowman, Ms. Brenda Burt, Dr. John Sibley Butler, Mr. John Chase, Ms. Barbara Smith Conrad, The Honorable Wilhelmina Delco and Dr. Exalton Delco Jr., The Honorable Rodney G. Ellis, Mr. Lonnie Fogle and Ms. Maudie Ates Fogle, Dr. Edmund T. Gordon, Ms. Choquette Hamilton, Dr. James L. Hill, Mr. Leon and Ms. Peggy Holland, Dr. Ira Iscoe and Ms. Louise Iscoe, Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, Dr. John Q. Taylor King, The Honorable Ron Kirk, Dr. Reuben McDaniel, Mr. James H. Means Jr., The Honorable Harriet Murphy, Dr. Wanda L. Nelson, Mr. William Spearman, Dr. Barbara W. White, Mr. Marlen Whitley, the Precursors, The Heman Marion Sweatt Family and The Heman Sweatt Symposium: Inaugural Committee.
John Chase enrolled in the School of Architecture just two days after the decision in Sweatt v. Painter was announced. Mr. Lonnie Fogle, Ms. Maudie Ates Fogle, Ret. Colonel Leon Holland, Ms. Peggy Drake Holland, Mr. James Means Jr., Ms. Barbara Smith Conrad and Mr. William Spearman were undergraduates in the late 1950s and early 1960s. More than 50 years after they attended the university, they were honored for their contributions to civil rights. As one of the honorees said, “Our hearts were full of joy and appreciation.”
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, said, “It was such a privilege to honor this distinguished group. All have advanced civil rights and social justice in a number of ways; all have contributed greatly to the university and to their communities. They truly honor the memory of Heman Sweatt who sacrificed so much and showed such moral courage in order to integrate The University of Texas School of Law.”
After the ceremony honorees and guests enjoyed a reception with entertainment by the musical trio Hedda Layne. For more information about the Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights, visit the Web site at http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/events/hemansweatt/. The Symposium is sponsored each year by colleges, schools and departments at UT Austin.
Read a wrap up of the Heman Sweatt Symposium Evening of Honors on the Austin American-Statesman web site.
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