Goldstone, D. (2005). “TO EXCLUDE AS MANY NEGRO UNDERGRADUATES AS POSSIBLE”: Brown v. board of education and the university of texas at austin. Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 2(2), 209-226.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, administrators at the University of Texas at Austin reluctantly decided to admit undergraduate African American students for the 1956 academic year, thus making the University of Texas the first southern school to integrate. While nominally accepting the decision, University of Texas administrators would do as little as they could to help Black students, and they did whatever they could both easily and legally to integrate less than fully. For example, after a faculty committee chose African American Barbara Smith to play the romantic lead in a school opera opposite a White male, the University of Texas president removed her from the production just days before she was to appear, after several White legislators objected and threatened to withhold the University’s appropriations. This incident reflected not only the difficulty southern states faced when deciding how–and whether–to fully comply with the Court’s mandate in Brown, but also how difficult it was for public universities to achieve full and equal integration in the face of “passive” resistance. Those in power at the University of Texas did, in fact, desegregate their school, but their policies ensured that the University would remain segregated in other meaningful ways. What happened at the University of Texas is instructive in showing how racial equality was never embraced as wholeheartedly as most Americans seem to think. Administrators were able to construct a fantasy of integration, all the while enacting racial policies made through “silent covenants” that ensured that policies conformed to priorities set by the Texas legislators and their White constituents. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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