Before Brown: Heman Marion Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice

By Gary M. Lavergne | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 17
“Don’t We Have Them on the Run

Please remember that I ask for education—not Negro education. And the facts
will unquestionably demonstrate a vast difference between the two. In fact,
sufficient difference to guarantee that [Prairie View A&M] will never find itself
faced with an entrance application from a normal White student
.

HEMAN MARION SWEATT, “WHY I WANT TO ATTEND THE
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS,” TEXAS RANGER, SEFTEMBER 1947

In September 1947, the Texas Ranger, a University of Texas student magazine, published its largest issue ever, both in size and circulation—20,000 copies and sixty-four pages. The issue launched the magazine’s editorial page and its first color cover. Below the cover-story title, an editor noted: “The Ranger believes that the racial problems in education should be openly discussed by all intelligent people.”

“Why I Want to Attend the University of Texas” had been written by Heman Marion Sweatt, and it identified two issues foremost on his mind: the racist and insulting notion that African Americans were not really interested in education, but in an opportunity to mix socially with whites, and the impossibility of the state to craft an acceptable “Negro education” for him that could replace the University of Texas Law School.1

Several months following my application to enter The University of Texas
Law School, one individual who interpreted this action as one suggesting
the Negro’s claim to equal national achievement, raised the question: “If
Negroes think themselves equal to the White man, why doesn’t one of them
make an atomic bomb?”…

Too many people of today have permitted themselves to shape distorted
pictures of life in this country as: The Labor movement being composed
of innumerable prisoners chained to a few labor leaders hell-bent upon

-222-

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Before Brown: Heman Marion Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1- Prologue 5
  • Chapter 2- One of the Great Prophets 8
  • Chapter 3- The Cast of Characters 20
  • Chapter 4- Iron Shoes 34
  • Chapter 5- The Shadow of Failure 45
  • Chapter 6- The Second Emancipation 58
  • Chapter 7- A University of the First Class 73
  • Chapter 8- [A Brash Moment] 86
  • Chapter 9- The Great Day 96
  • Chapter 10- [Time Is of the Essence] 111
  • Chapter 11- [the Tenderest Feeling] 124
  • Chapter 12- The Basement School 139
  • Chapter 13- A Line in the Dirt 152
  • Chapter 14- [I Don't Believe in Segregation] 170
  • Chapter 15- The Sociological Argument 187
  • Chapter 16- The House That Sweatt Built 204
  • Chapter 17- [Don't We Have Them on the Run 222
  • Chapter 18- A Shattered Spirit 238
  • Chapter 19- The Big One 253
  • Chapter 20- Why Sweatt Won 267
  • Chapter 21- Epilogue 285
  • Notes 295
  • Bibliography and Notes on Sources 335
  • Index 343
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