Most African Americans in Texas worked in agriculture until after World War II. Although plagued by discrimination and violence and denied the right to vote, they continued to work to improve their communities.
Unable to effect change through the political system, blacks turned to the courts. The Texas NAACP filed lawsuits throughout the 1920s and 1930s against the Jim Crow laws that prevented African Americans from voting. Thanks to their tireless efforts, it was Texas blacks who won two of the most significant court cases of the civil rights movement. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled in Smith v. Allwright that the Texas white primary was unconstitutional. In 1950, the Court ruled in Sweatt v. Painter that the University of Texas could not discriminate in admitting black students to law school and other graduate and professional schools. The case laid the legal groundwork for the famous ruling four years later in Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas.
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Postcards of Texas Collection, Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. #1961/8-200 and 267.
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