A fight for recognition is won

Colby Bicentennial Seal 1864-1913

Dec. 1950

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Horace Lincoln Heath
By Horace Lincoln Heath ’30
 
Though my acceptance as a student at Texas University was achieved last June, the fight by Negroes for this recognition began a decade ago.
First let me state Texas University, following the pattern of southern colleges, has always been exclusively for whites. Admittance of Negroes has been fought vigorously and they were never accepted until the Supreme Court decision of 1950.
Ten years ago one of my friends, a Creole, almost broke through this color line. He had completed registration at the University and was on the verge of being enrolled when jubilant admirers gave his secret away and thereby instituted an investigation which ended in the revoking of his papers. My friend withdrew without prejudice and it was not until Herman Sweatt, a Negro mail carrier, applied for admittance six years later that the matter was re-opened.
Sweatt held a college degree with honors and had received his Master of Arts, also with honors, from Michigan. He wisely approached his proposed admittance to the college through legal channels and his actions forced the state of Texas and Texas University to adopt two new measures-a provision setting up separate classes for Negroes at the University of Texas and the founding of an “equal university” at Houston-the Texas State University for Negroes-so temporary “separate” classes might be discontinued.
Sweatt refused to accept this arrangement, winning the Supreme Court decision, June 6, 1950.
My own entrance into this picture, followed a conference between the chairman of the Board of Trustees, the state attorney general, the university president, graduate dean, and director of admissions. Apprehensively they announced that I had been accepted to study for my doctorate. Despite the fact that I held an A.B. degree from Colby and a master’s from the University of Pennsylvania, their decision came as a surprise, especially to me.
Some Negro had to make a “landing” on the campus to test this court-dictated equality. The opportunity fell to me.
This was not all luck. The hand of Colby directed the influence resulting in the fine consideration and recognition which I received. I had the opportunity to set precedents for conduct of Negroes at Texas University. I trust my experience has made it easier for others of my race who will in the future follow as students there and at other southern universities.
 
-The Colby Alumnus