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Advancing Democracy

Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas

Amilcar Shabazz
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Advancing Democracy
    Book Description:

    As we approach the fiftieth anniversary ofBrown v. Board of Education(1954), it is important to consider the historical struggles that led to this groundbreaking decision. Four years earlier in Texas, theSweatt v. Painterdecision allowed blacks access to the University of Texas's law school for the first time. Amilcar Shabazz shows that the development of black higher education in Texas--which has historically had one of the largest state college and university systems in the South--played a pivotal role in the challenge to Jim Crow education.Shabazz begins with the creation of the Texas University Movement in the 1880s to lobby for equal access to the full range of graduate and professional education through a first-class university for African Americans. He traces the philosophical, legal, and grassroots components of the later campaign to open all Texas colleges and universities to black students, showing the complex range of strategies and the diversity of ideology and methodology on the part of black activists and intellectuals working to promote educational equality. Shabazz credits the efforts of blacks who fought for change by demanding better resources for segregated black colleges in the years beforeBrown, showing how crucial groundwork for nationwide desegregation was laid in the state of Texas.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1969-9
    Subjects: Education, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations, Tables, Figure, and Map
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    When the incisive wit of Richard Pryor’sBicentennial Niggerwarms my heart, I recall my hopes and dreams in 1976 as a young American who happened to be of color. I had no limits. My vision was to become the first black to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas, perhaps one day to become president of the United States. Of course, the reality and prevalence of racism and white supremacy did not escape me. Like Nat Turner and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., two of my heroes, I felt I was destined to play a profound role in...

  6. CHAPTER ONE As Separate as the Fingers Higher Education in Texas from Promise to Problem, 1865–1940
    (pp. 9-33)

    Before black Texans had their own history, schools, churches, warriors, martyrs, and women and men of big affairs, they had Juneteenth. It may not have looked like much in the eyes of an arrogant world, but it was everything black Texans had, and they each loved and cherished that day with all their heart. On the nineteenth of June, they celebrated with their songs of sorrow and joy, they shared the mirth that helped them to survive the long, white-hot day of bondage, their tongues spread the lore that sustained their folk life, and most important of all, they remembered....

  7. CHAPTER TWO The All-Out War for Democracy in Education Ideological Struggle and the Texas University Movement
    (pp. 34-65)

    After 1940, higher education policy and racial politics in the United States began to collide, and from their collision came one of the most significant fronts in the battle for black democratic rights and the dismantling of America’s version of apartheid. Texas became the site of the first direct legal challenge to the constitutionality ofPlessyv.Fergusonand thereby provided the context for the transition from a legal strategy centered on separate-but-equal schools to a frontal assault on the legitimacy of racially segregated education as such. The legal arguments of Thurgood Marshall in key education cases in the 1940s,...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Lift the Seventy-Five-Year-Old Color Ban and Raise UT’s Standards University Students for Democracy before Sweatt
    (pp. 66-94)

    Money and numbers are the language of politics, and the Texas naacp expanded rapidly in both categories with victory in theSmithDemocratic primary case. As never before in its history, the association suddenly became a player in the raucous arena of Texas politics. Statewide in 1945, the naacp had more than a hundred branches with some 23,000 members. In Houston, during the late 1930s only a few hundred members paid their membership dues; but by 1943, the membership roll had soared to 5,679, and by 1945 it had doubled to over 12,000 members. Propagandists and organizers like Carter Wesley...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR This Is White Civilization’s Last Stand University Desegregation before Brown
    (pp. 95-137)

    Bringing law to the side of desegregation represented a landmark achievement, but it was also an empty glove without the flesh and blood experience of the individuals who crossed the line to make the legal victory a lived reality. The women and men who breathed life into the social, legal, and political debates that arose from theSweattcase and enacted their historic role as “firsts,” reacted to their experiences in many different ways. Likewise, students, teachers, and administrators at black-only, as well as black-excluding, universities responded in various ways to the challenges and changes to their campus traditions when...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Democracy Is on the March in Texas Black Equality versus White Power, 1955–1957
    (pp. 138-195)

    ThroughBrown, the civil rights movement gave the United States a new and radical interpretation of its Constitution—so much for that. Almost two years after the ruling, Thurgood Marshall, the attorney who presented the school desegregation cases before the Supreme Court, had to go about addressing critics who called themselves friends of racial justice but who chastised the naacp for “moving too fast” in its fight against racial segregation. At the annual Conference on Human Relations at Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio, on 14 April 1956, Marshall gave his answer to “so-called liberals” and others who felt that...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Plowing around Africans on Aryan Plantations Access without Equity at Texas Universities, 1958–1965
    (pp. 196-217)

    In the aftermath of the state’s assault on civil liberties, Texas white supremacists began to realize that sanctions against the democratic movement for racial integration could only slow the pace of change; it could not reverse its direction. By disrupting the work of the naacp, the attorney general’s office had curtailed the momentum of the civil rights revolution. The ideas of equal protection of the laws and equal educational opportunity and access and the discrediting and abandoning of the philosophy of racial superiority, however, continued to challenge segregation at state universities and colleges. In 1958, Richard Morehead of theDallas...

  12. Coda
    (pp. 218-222)

    By 1965, in order to secure greater access to educational opportunities for themselves and their children, Negroes had, as James Baldwin wrote in his bookThe Fire Next Time, stuffed “their pride in their pockets” to the point that they began to burst. Even as African Americans won the enlarged access they had long sought, their individual and collective sense of self could no longer be stuffed down into pockets of pragmatic necessity. Heman Sweatt and others whose names styled desegregation lawsuits like Joe Atkins, Dana Jean Smith, Versie Jackson, John Shipp, Carolyn Jean Kirkwood, Wilma Jean Whitmore, Willie Faye...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 223-280)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 281-294)
  15. Index
    (pp. 295-301)