Austin’s civil rights history examined…

January 26th, 2011 at 8:35 pm by under Photo/Video

Gary Lavergne has written a book about Hemann Sweatt. (Ed Zavala/KXAN)

Tonight at 10pm, Jim Swift revisits the story of  Heman Marion Sweatt, the civil rights pioneer who opened the doors of the U.T. School of  Law to African-Americans in 1950.  I was present when we interviewed Gary Lavergne, a director of admissions at U.T. and the author of a recent book on the Sweatt saga, Before Brown.  The story comes in advance of the 25th Heman Marion Sweatt Symposium which starts Thursday, January 27th at the University of Texas. I have known about Mr. Sweatt for a few years now and of his importance to the civil rights crusade and of his Austin ties.  I remember covering the renaming of the county courthouse to the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse back in 2005.  What I did not know and found an interesting  factoid was that a house off 12th Street on San Bernard hosted Sweatt and his attorney,  ThurgoodMarshall, as they planned their strategy to take on the constitutionality of segregation all those years ago. Marshall of course went on to be a distinguished U.S. Supreme Court justice.  In retrospect, their meeting was a momentous occasion indeed, all done in a quaint, unassuming, wood-framed house in east Austin. I have driven all over this city covering news and I’m sure I’ve driven past this home more than a few times. Just goes to show that you never know where history lies. Catch the full story online now and the televised version tonight at 10pm on Austin News.

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