Lawyers v. Educators: Black Colleges and Desegregation in Public Higher Education

By Jean L. Preer | Go to book overview

4 Sweatt: Dubious Precedent

No one relishes anything imposed from the outside. The better class of Southerners should therefore recognize the basic aspirations of Negroes and voluntarily provide them with all the prerogatives of citizenship.

Negroes are not radicals; they are humans, but the "slow education" theory of the South has demonstrated to Negroes that the only way to achieve gains to enjoy in their lifetime is to utilize all of the fighting tools of democracy. This would not be necessary if Southerners, most of whom are deeply religious, would apply the simple Golden Rule toward their dealings with their fellow citizens. 1

George W. McLaurin

The NAACP's reaction to new graduate and professional programs at existing black public colleges changed from ambivalence in the mid-1930s to hostility in the late 1940s. At first, the Association accepted new separate schools as a practical gain for educational opportunity although a setback in the fight against segregation. The readiness of courts to accept promises of equal facilities and makeshift substitutes, however, called into question the whole equalization thrust of the litigation campaign.

Experience indicated the dangers inherent in arguments based on educational opportunity. As states moved from no provision for Negroes to out- of-state scholarships, to promises of equal facilities on demand, to makeshift separate schools, it became increasingly difficult to prove the inequality of educational opportunity. The case of Sweatt v. Painter2 forced the NAACP to face the basic contradiction in its strategy and to acknowledge the real objective of its legal campaign: the end of legal segregation completely. The evolution in Texas of the makeshift separate law school for Negroes into a bona fide separate university presented the NAACP with the logical fulfillment of its equalization strategy.

In the course of the protracted Sweatt litigation, the NAACP announced a shift away from demands for educational equality to a frontal assault on segregation itself. In fact, the shift was more a change in emphasis than in direction. Sweatt assigned a new importance to old arguments against racial classifications and made new use of expert testimony. Nevertheless, it

-95-

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Lawyers v. Educators: Black Colleges and Desegregation in Public Higher Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in American Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 4
  • 1 - The Morrill Act of 1890: Separate Black Public Colleges 5
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Gaines: Equal Access or Equal Opportunity? 31
  • Notes 56
  • 3 - Sipuel: Arguments in Transition 63
  • Notes 88
  • 4 - Sweatt: Dubious Precedent 95
  • Notes 121
  • 5 - Hawkins: Conditions That Now Prevail 127
  • Notes 152
  • 6 - The Civil Rights Act of 1964: from Segregation to Discrimination 157
  • Notes 183
  • 7 - Adams: Racial Identifiability and Black Public Colleges 189
  • Notes 222
  • Conclusion 233
  • Notes 241
  • List of Cases and Statutes 243
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 271
  • About the Author 279
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