Heman Marion Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice
384 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 22 b&w photos
Sales Date: September 1, 2010
Winner, Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize for Best Book on Texas History, Texas State Historical Association, 2010
Carr P. Collins Award, Texas Institute of Letters, 2011
On February 26, 1946, an African American from Houston applied for admission to the University of Texas School of Law. Although he met all of the school's academic qualifications, Heman Marion Sweatt was denied admission because he was black. He challenged the university's decision in court, and the resulting case, Sweatt v. Painter, went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in Sweatt's favor. The Sweatt case paved the way for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka rulings that finally opened the doors to higher education for all African Americans and desegregated public education in the United States.
In this engrossing, well-researched book, Gary M. Lavergne tells the fascinating story of Heman Sweatt's struggle for justice and how it became a milestone for the civil rights movement. He reveals that Sweatt was a central player in a master plan conceived by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for ending racial segregation in the United States. Lavergne masterfully describes how the NAACP used the Sweatt case to practically invalidate the "separate but equal" doctrine that had undergirded segregated education for decades. He also shows how the Sweatt case advanced the career of Thurgood Marshall, whose advocacy of Sweatt taught him valuable lessons that he used to win the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 and ultimately led to his becoming the first black Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
~Amilcar Shabazz, Professor and Chair, W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst
The fight to open the University of Texas to all was a turning point that led to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the racial segregation it had sanctioned in Plessy. Those who take racial diversity at our preeminent institutions of higher education for granted do so at great peril and diminish the sacrifices of Sweatt and others. Read this book and find out why.
~Paul Begala, political contributor, CNN
Like Texas’s founding fathers, Sweatt fearlessly faced evil, and made Texas a better place. His story is our story, and Gary Lavergne tells it well.
- Chapter 1: Prologue
- Chapter 2: One of the Great Prophets
- Chapter 3: The Cast of Characters
- Chapter 4: Iron Shoes
- Chapter 5: The Shadow of Failure
- Chapter 6: The Second Emancipation
- Chapter 7: A University of the First Class
- Chapter 8: "A Brash Moment"
- Chapter 9: The Great Day
- Chapter 10: "Time Is of the Essence"
- Chapter 11: "The Tenderest Feeling"
- Chapter 12: The Basement School
- Chapter 13: A Line in the Dirt
- Chapter 14: "I Don't Believe in Segregation"
- Chapter 15: The Sociological Argument
- Chapter 16: The House That Sweatt Built
- Chapter 17: "Don't We Have Them on the Run"
- Chapter 18: A Shattered Spirit
- Chapter 19: The Big One
- Chapter 20: Why Sweatt Won
- Chapter 21: Epilogue
- Bibliography and Notes on Sources
The publication of Before Brown was made possible by the support of the Jess and Betty Jo Hay Endowment.