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March 1, 2005

Press Contact: Allegra Young, UT Law (512) 917-9159.

Travis County Honors Civil Rights Pioneer Heman Sweatt

Photograph of

     Parker, Jefferson, and Yudof
Reverend Joseph C. Parker, Jr., '82 and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, '88 with Chancellor Mark Yudof. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Ray Photography.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, Feb. 28, the Travis County Courthouse unveiled a bronze plaque commemorating UT Law civil rights pioneer Heman Sweatt. Mr. Sweatt sued in the U.S. Supreme Court to gain admission to UT Law School and won. The case, Sweatt v. Painter, is staple of constitutional law taught to first-year students.

"Sweatt v. Painter was an important way-station on the road to Brown v. Board of Education. The case is particularly important to UT because it reminds us that the University has to serve all Texans," said Professor Ernie Young who teaches constitutional law.

UT Law has named a professorship and scholarship in honor of the civil rights pioneer. The school is a national leader in graduating African-Americans and Mexican-Americans according to the most recent American Bar Association statistics.

According to an article by reporter Ralph Haurwitz in today's Austin American-Statesman,

"Wallace Jefferson, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court and the first African American justice on that court, said he and others owe a debt of gratitude to Sweatt for serving as a soldier in the civil rights battle. Jefferson is a graduate of UT Law School, which has become a national standout in graduating blacks and Hispanics.

"Without Sweatt," he said, "there would be no Chief Justice Jefferson."

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Article in the Austin American-Statesman: