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    Policy & Law

    Heman Sweatt's relatives honor his legacy

    By Christopher Palmer
    Christopher Palmer
    Published: Feb. 17, 2011

    Gary Lavergne, author of “Before Brown: Heman Marion Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice,” moderated a panel of members of the Sweatt family, as they shared memories of Heman Marion Sweatt, the first African American to integrate the School of Law.

    The panel took place at John Hargis Hall on Jan. 27, 2011 as part of the 25th Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights hosted by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

    The Symposium’s Speaker Series continues with events on Feb. 24, March 24, April 14 and May 6. A full schedule can be found online.

    Background information from the symposium’s Web site:

    Heman Marion Sweatt applied for admission to the University of Texas Law School in 1946, but was denied admission on the basis of race. Sweatt, with the help and assistance of the NAACP, brought legal action against the university.

    In the landmark case, Sweatt vs. Painter, the United States Supreme Court ruled that separate law school facilities could not provide a legal education equal to that available at the University of Texas Law School, one of the nation’s ranking law schools. The Supreme Court ruling established an important precedent for the desegregation of graduate and professional schools. Challenging the “separate but equal” doctrine, the court affirmed Sweatt’s right to equal educational opportunity and in 1950, he entered The University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

    The Sweatt decision helped pave the way for African Americans’ admission to formerly segregated colleges and universities across the nation, and led to the overturn of segregation by law in all levels of public education in the landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Education four years later.

    Related content:

    • Quote 2
      Angela Hodge said on Feb. 22, 2011 at 7:31 a.m.
      All graduates especially those of us of colour owe him a debt of gratitute for being a trailblazer and enduring things we probably can't conceive. Thank you for your contributions!
    • Quote 2
      Jason King said on Feb. 20, 2011 at 3:16 p.m.
      This history should be in all Texas and U.S. government texts in high school--it is a crying shame that it is not. It is also shamful that UT regents still intend to segregate by changing the top 10% automatic admission. Don't they know this state will become 2nd rate or worse if educational opportunites for all students are denied!?
    • Quote 2
      Teresa Lynn Thompson said on Feb. 19, 2011 at 2:41 p.m.
      I am a doctoral student at UT Austin and I am grateful to Mr. Sweatt for his bravery and commitment that paved the way for me and so many others.
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