AUSTIN, Texas—The Jamail Center for Legal Research at The University of Texas at Austin has announced the opening of the Tarlton Law Library’s spring semester exhibit, Stepping Away from Segregation: Sweatt V. Painter.
The exhibit in the Law School Atrium marks the 50th anniversary of the historic lawsuit, Sweatt V. Painter, which in 1950 opened The University of Texas School of Law to African American students. The display, which opened Feb. 7 and continues through March 8 in conjunction with Black History Month, is open to the public. It will again go on display April 10, in time for UT Austin’s annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights.
The exhibit draws heavily from the Tom C. Clark Papers, the Charles T. McCormick Papers, and The University of Texas Law School History Files. Clark, the only Texan to have served on the U.S. Supreme Court, was an associate justice when Sweatt V. Painter was decided in 1950. Likewise, McCormick was dean of both the “white” UT law school and the newly created Texas State University for Negroes Law School.
A substantial portion of the exhibit illustrates Texas’ struggle to create a “separate but equal” law school in reaction to the lawsuit. Another segment of the exhibit traces Justice Clark’s struggle with developing an effective legal rationale for reversing the Texas Supreme Court decision, which had barred Sweatt from the “white” law school. Also prominent is a display of photographs of Heman Sweatt and then-NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall during the historic legal battle.
The exhibit is composed of reproductions of photographic and manuscript materials from Tarlton Law Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections as well as from the Prints and Photographs Collection of the Center for American History.
For additional information, contact the exhibit’s curator, Stephanie Swenson Towery, at the Tarlton Law Library, (512) 232-3802, or email address email@example.com, or Mike Widener, archivist/rare books librarian, (512) 471-7263, email address firstname.lastname@example.org.