Today in Texas History – February 26

SWEATT, HEMAN MARION | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas ...

From the Annals of Segregation –  In 1946, Heman Sweatt met with University of Texas President Theophilus S. Painter and other university officials to present a formal request for admission to the UT School of Law.  Sweatt was accompanied by representatives of the NAACP. Sweatt had already agreed to sue UT if he was denied admission and present a test case for the integration of higher education in Texas.   UT denied him admission. Painter informed him that although his credentials were adequate enough he could not allow him to enter UT.  As one court put it, “he possessed every essential qualification for admission, except that of race, upon which ground alone his application was denied.” The Texas Attorney General Grover Sellers backed up Painter’s decision.  Sweatt filed suit against Painter on May 16, 1946.  The trial court found that under the “separate but equal” doctrine, Texas had to build an equal law school within a six month time frame. After six months had passed the judge threw out the case because Texas A&M had planned a resolution to provide a legal education for blacks. Sweatt, with the backing of the NAACP, appealed.  The case finally reached the United States Supreme Court in June of 1950.  The Supreme Court held that black students were not offered an equal quality law education in the state of Texas, and as a result UT would have to admit qualified black applicants.  On September 19, 1950, Sweatt registered for classes at the UT School of Law. However, as a result of the tremendous amount of stress and emotional trauma from the long drawn out court cases Sweatt’s mental and physical health had taken a turn for the worse.  He later withdrew from the school.

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