Setting aside the myth of "separate but equal" found in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), and laying a foundation for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Sweatt v. Painter is a landmark case in civil rights legislation. The 1950 US Supreme Court decision was the culmination of a legal battle started in 1946 when Heman Sweatt, an African American postal worker in Houston, was denied entrance to the University of Texas Law School
The first action in the case was for the State District Court to continue it for six months until a law school for African Americans could be established. This was done by transforming the locally-run Houston College for Negroes into the Texas State University for Negroes (now Texas Southern University). Schools of law, business, dentistry and other fields would provide the "separate but equal" access to education otherwise unavailable.
The appeal to the Texas Supreme Court that these facilities were, indeed, unequal was denied, but the US Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision, finding the facilities to be unequal in terms of facilities and intangibles such as the lower prestige of the new university and the isolation from most other future lawyers in the state.
Wiley College in Marshall, enrolled at the University of Texas Law School in the fall of 1950, but did not graduate. He was later awarded a scholarship to Atlanta University where he received a Master's Degree in community organizations and he eventually became the assistant director of the National Urban League's southern regional office.
Sweatt v. Painter is the topic of the 2010 book by Gary M Lavergne, Before Brown: Heman Marion Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice.
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