Texas Insights May 2017

Volume VII, Issue 5

What’s New?

As we look back on this school year, we want to acknowledge the outstanding achievements of students and teachers for all of their hard-work and dedication from the beginning of the school year through the Spring statewide contests. With so many programs and contests across the state, below are a few of the students and teachers who put in extra effort and commitment. Thank you to all of the teachers who instill a love of learning Texas history in their students. You are appreciated. Congratulations students and teachers!

TSHA (Texas State Historical Association) manages several programs for both students and teachers that support over 18,000 teachers and 1 million students. The online Texas Quiz Show competition began in the Fall with practice quizzes, followed by online qualifying rounds in March, and finally with the live state competition on April 29th where the top 20 students competed in Austin at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The champion this year was Bryce Cruise from Garden Oaks Montessori in Houston. Congratulations to all of the students who 
studied Texas history for the competition.

Each year, TSHA hosts a T-shirt design competition and as 
the winner, Olivia Salinas from Spring, Texas has her design featured on the 2017 National History Day T-shirt printed this year. The Texas History Day state competition was held on April 29th with over 1,100 students competing. Following months of regionals to compete at the state competition, 77 students will be headed to nationals in College Park, Maryland this June. Photos from this event are availble for sale by Sandy Adams Photography.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas named Lauren Mitchell as their 4th grade essay winner, and Summer Sandy as their 7th grade essay winner. For the second year in a row, Pranay Varada from DeWitt Perry Middle School in Carrollton was named state winner of the Geography Bee and will advance to the national competition in Washington D.C. later this month. Sponsored by Texas Law-Related Education, the Texas Citizen Bee named Rodrigo Estrada from the El Paso region as the winner. Also, we would like to congratulate the middle school and high school winners of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) competitions across the state. To learn more about student programs like these and others, visit TeachingTexas.org.



TSHA also announced two educators, Justin Felux and Dan K. Utley as the recipients of the $5,000 Mary Jon and J.P. Bryan Leadership in Education Award in March. Nominations for this year are due December 8, 2017. The award is given annually to honor two outstanding educators in Texas. One award at the Elementary/Secondary level and the other at the Higher Education level. Self Nominations are accepted.

Featured Institution

The LBJ Presidential Library
by Amanda Melancon
Education Specialist, The LBJ Presidential Library

The LBJ Presidential Library is one of fourteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Its mission is to preserve and protect the historical materials in the collections of the library and make them readily accessible; to increase public awareness of the American experience through relevant exhibits and educational programs; and to advance the LBJ Library’s standing as a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world.

At the LBJ Presidential Library, visitors have an opportunity to learn about America’s 36th President, Lyndon Johnson, one of the most complex and fascinating leaders. Through innovative, state-of-the art exhibits, the political and personal lives of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson come alive. This contemporary experience allows visitors to understand the decisions President Johnson faced and his passion for critical issues such as education, civil rights, the environment, health care, and the arts. All aspects of Johnson’s presidency are explored, including the Vietnam War. Visitors can pick up a telephone to hear audio recordings of Johnson as he conducts business –a rare behind-the scenes glimpse inside the White House, found only at the LBJ Library.

While exploring the Library’s exhibits, visitors step into a replica of the Oval Office, hear about life in the White House from the President’s daughters, delve into the digital archives to read letters, watch videos, and view photos from the Library’s collections, and experience the decade of the Johnson Administration – the turbulent 1960s.

As part of your field trip experience, the education department offers a variety of immersive classroom activities. Join the National Security Council and advise the president on whether or not he should escalate the war in Vietnam or investigate the murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964. Dive into the Great Society programs through historic and contemporary issues or get hands on with authentic political memorabilia from the 1964 election between Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater.  To learn more about offerings at the LBJ Presidential Library, visit www.lbjlibrary.org/education.

Engage students in your classroom by downloading lesson plans or primary source materials from our holdings. To access these unique resources, begin your search at www.discoverlbj.org. This recently launched online digital archive is continually updated as new content is digitized. Search for a topic and filter by collection or item type to narrow your results.  Lesson plans will be added during the launch of our new website in late summer/early fall. In the meantime, download LBJ and the Freedom Summer of 1964, a civil rights lesson plan at http://www.lbjlibrary.org/education/sxswedu as well as a presentation connecting the Civil Rights Act to today using music.

The LBJ Presidential Library is certified by the Texas Education Agency as a provider of CEU credits for Texas Educators. Our year-round workshops are open to educators and feature primary sources from our document, photo, and museum archival holdings. Workshops are created with teachers in mind to assist educators in expanding their curriculum and developing their own skills in research and primary source work.

Launched in September 2016, the Education Membership level of the Friends of the LBJ Library is in the early stages of forming and growing. If you are a current classroom teacher, homeschool teacher, or professor, please consider joining the membership program. The benefits include two programs a semester geared toward educators, one Evening With ticket (pre-determined) per semester, priority registration for teacher and student events, as well as free admission to all presidential libraries, a discount in the LBJ Library store, and more! Please contact us for more information. You must be a current teacher or enrolled in a teacher training program to become a member.

The LBJ Presidential Library’s education specialists are available for any questions or to book a field trip experience.  Please call Amanda Melancon at 512-721-0172 or Mallory Lineberger at 512-721-0195, or email at education@lbjlibrary.org.

The Library is open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day). For more information about the Library, please visit www.lbjlibrary.org.

Historian's Corner

Sweatting Civil Rights
by Dr. Ronald Goodwin
Prairie View A&M University
As Texans we barely consider the issue of diversity in our state’s public colleges and universities anymore. We live in a society where access to higher education is predicated on grade point averages, standardized test scores, community service participation, and of course, income. We’d like to believe that all children throughout the state have the same opportunities to succeed in higher education, but that simply is not the case. Compare the educational environment in the Edgewood School District (San Antonio) to those students living in the Cypress-Fairbanks School District (Harris County) and you’ll see that some in our state are just better prepared for the rigors of college than others. Are the problems inherent in education racial or economic? Obviously that depends on your point of view. Sadly, however, our state has a history of racial discrimination in higher education that cannot be erased with whiteout or correction tape.

Texas is a Southern state. As such, race relations since emancipation were influenced by Jim Crow laws (bolstered by violence and poll taxes) to keep the state’s black community restricted to the lower rungs of society well into the 1970s. The US Supreme Court’s decision in Plessy v Ferguson in 1898 set a standard of interaction that was eerily reminiscent of slavery. The Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional to provide separate facilities for whites and blacks as long as they were considered equal. Of course, such separate facilities were rarely, if ever, equal.

As the twentieth century began, “separate but equal” influenced everything in Texas from water fountains to restrooms to dining establishments. Of course, schools were also segregated. The economic disparity between black and white schools between 1900 and 1970 was embarrassing.

By the 1930s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP) had already begun its systematic attack on Jim Crow and the doctrine of separate but equal. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal was unconstitutional and overturned the Plessy decision in Brown v Board of Education. However, before the Brown verdict, the judicial team of the NAACP needed a sparring partner before the big fight. They found it in Texas.   

In 1946, Houston postal employee Heman Sweatt, with the support of the NAACP, applied to The University of Texas School of Law. He was summarily denied admission because he was black.   The President of UT, Theophilus S. Painter, insisted that refusing to admit Sweat based on race was in keeping with the University’s policies and the essence of the Plessy decision. UT officials, would, however, support his admission to an out-of-state institution. Thurgood Marshall countered by recommending that Texas A&M release Prairie View A&M to be a separate, independent school, and the State of Texas establish a new school for blacks with undergraduate, graduate and professional training. Initially, Painter refused this request, but did support locating several law books in the basement of the Capital and declared a new law school for blacks was open for business.

When Sweatt v. Painter reached the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshal argued that the attempt to create a black law school in the basement of the Capital was inadequate and not equal to Texas’s flagship university. Marshal further argued that even after the creation of the Texas School for Negroes in Houston that such facilities still did not satisfy the essence of Plessy, and therefore it was unconstitutional to deny admission based on the race of the applicant. In an interview given to The US Law Week when the proceedings began in April 1950, Marshal commented, “It is most peculiar, he continued, that the Attorney General of Texas in the lower court trial said that the ‘basement law school’ at Austin was better than the University of Texas. Then after winning in court, they built a new one (the new law school for Negroes at Houston).  If the new school is so superior, the white students have cause for complaint….this case seeks only the admission of a qualified Negro applicant to a law school.” 

Texas’s Attorney general, Price Daniel, argued in a 127-page brief before the Supreme Court, that they previously ruled in nine individual decisions that separate schools were constitutional. Although Sweatt lost in state court, the US Supreme Court in June 1950 ordered the integration of The University of Texas School of Law and also The University's Graduate School. The Supreme Court found that Texas did not provide potential black law students in Texas equal educational opportunities. In its decision the Supreme Court stated:

The University of Texas Law School has 16 full-time and three part-time professors, 850 students, a library of 65,000 volumes, a law review, moot court facilities, scholarship funds, an Order of the Coif affiliation, many distinguished alumni, and much tradition and prestige.  The separate law school for Negroes has five full-time professors, 23 students, a library of 16,500 volumes, a practice court, a legal aid association and one alumnus admitted to the Texas Bar; but it excludes from its student body members of racial groups which number 85% of the population of the State and which include most of the lawyers, witnesses, jurors, judges, and other officials with whom petitioner would deal as a member of the Texas Bar.  The legal education offered petitioner is not substantially equal to that which he would receive if admitted to the University of Texas Law School; and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that he be admitted to the University of Texas Law School.

UT’s administration ultimately admitted Sweatt to the UT law school, and the Sweatt decision eventually led to the establishment of Texas Southern University. With the momentum of the Sweatt case behind him, Thurgood Marshall began planning for the next legal attack on Jim Crow.  In 1954, he found it.

Even though today’s minorities have the opportunity to matriculate at any number of the Texas’s fine public and private institutions of higher education, let’s not be so drunk on the Kool Aid to believe they are truly “diverse.” Texas’s college-aged black community is still woefully underrepresented. The latest data from the College Board indicates black students are a miniscule part of the racial makeup at the State’s two flagship universities. At the University of Texas at Austin, 42% of the student enrollment classifies themselves as white, 23% as Hispanic, 21% as Asian, 4% as black and the remaining 10% from other racial groups. At Texas A&M University, whites make up 63% of the student population, Hispanics 23%, Asians 6% and blacks constitute only 3%.  The remaining 5% are other.

There’s no question that the Civil Rights movement not only brought an end to Jim Crow and legal segregation in housing, employment and education, it also brought a standard of living never before seen in the black community. However, more than sixty years after the Brown decision, the black community is still struggling to educate their children at the State’s best institutions. Few black faces are seen in the state-of-the-art facilities in Austin or College Station…except on Saturday afternoon at Kyle Field or Memorial Stadium when they’re in uniform entertaining over 100,000 fans.   


[1]The best examination of Jim Crow in the US is C.V. Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow, 1966. With the blessing of the Supreme Court, southern states enacted literacy tests, poll taxes and property qualifications as prerequisites to voting.  Furthermore, in 1898 the Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes and other qualifying measures were an acceptable means of restricting the ballot to qualified voters.
[2] Dallas Express, December 28, 1946. Michael L. Gillette, "Heman Marion Sweatt: Civil Rights Plaintiff," in Black Leaders: Texans for Their Times, ed. Alwyn Barr and Robert Calvert (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1981).
[3] Houston Informer, March 5, 1946.
[4] The United States Law Week, Vol. 18, No. 39, p.3277 (April 11, 1950).
[5] “Sweatt Suit Called Broad Attack on All Racial Segregation” by Dawson Duncan, Austin American Statesman, March 27, 1950.
[6] U.S. Supreme Court-Sweatt v. Painter, 339 u.s. 629 (1950) 339 U.S. 629, Sweatt v. Painter et al. Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Texas, No. 44. Argued April 4, 1950, Decided June 5, 1950, p. 631-636
[7] http://www.law.utexas.edu/rare/sweatt.htm
[8] http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/SS/fsw23.html

Featured Lesson

Hernandez v. Texas: Latinos and the Fourteenth Amendment is a lesson plan for 6th through 8th grade students. Following the Sweat v. Painter Court Case (1950), Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka (1954) decided that the "seperate but equal" precedent was unconstitutional for schools.  Hernandez v. Texas (1954) further defined the Fourteenth Amendment in refrence to race and discrimination, this time looking at Latinos. Students will take part in a carousel discussion to examine the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendement. To view this lesson, go to TeachingTexas.org.

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

The 2017 Texas Preserve America Youth Summit will be June 27-30, 2017. Students will foster understanding of heritage, history, and historic places while doing projects. Teachers will receive new skills and knowledge for relevant learning applications. The summit will be at the Padre Island National Seashore and Palo Alto National Historic Park. Registration is open. To register and learn more, go to TeachingTexas.org.

  This summer TSHA will offer a one day teacher workshop on July 21st, at the Region 16 Education Service Center in Amarillo. The Exploring Texas Workshop Series will continue in August with Energizing Texas History in Richardson, Discovering Texas History in Austin in November, and Encountering Texas History in Houston in February of 2018. To learn more about these workshops and how you can attend, visit TeachingTexas.org.

The Institute of Texan Cultures is offering a free summer workshop July 10-14  for educators to explore San Antonio’s rich history while preparing educators to integrate the tricentennial into their classrooms for the next school year. Attendees will become San Antonio 300 Teacher Ambassadors and receive professional development credit. To find out more and register, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Texas Law-Related Education has several upcoming summer workshops for teachers. Topics include Hatton W. Sumners Institute on the Founding Documents 101, The American History Challenge: Helping Teach the Tough TEKS, and Being an American: Exploring the Ideals That Unite. For dates, registration, and more information about these workshops, click on TeachingTexas.org.

Middle and High School teachers are invited to Humanities Texas Summer Professional Development Institutes this June. In Austin, the first will cover the founding period of U.S. history. In Lubbock, the workshop will feature Cold War Era topics. College Station will host a workshop on World Wars I and II. The Denton institute will cover the Spanish period thorugh the twentieth century. Finally, both Houston and San Marcos will host a workshop on the Texas literary tradition. For application information, check out TeachingTexas.org.


On August 10th, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas State  Historical Association, Texas General Land Office, and Texas Capitol Visitors Center present the Texas in Transition Workshop. Educators teaching 4th through 7th grade Texas history are invited to the FREE workshop. Speakers include Dr. J.F. de la Teja from Texas State University and State Historian Bill O'Neal. Space is limited, visit TeachingTexas.org to register.




Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with The University of Texas.

Texas State Historical Association
3001 Lake Austin Blvd., Suite 3.116
Austin, TX 78703

Stephen Cure - Editor
Esther Rivera - Associate Editor




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