Houston Informer, February 28, 1946. Used with permission of the Houston Informer

Questions On Educational Funds


Where does the money come from which the Legislature appropriates biennially for Prairie View? Article 6, section 14 of the constitution authorized the Legislature to "provide for the maintenance of a College or Branch university." The Legislature set up Prairie View Institute, and an institute is neither a college nor a branch university. Another question is, what authority did the Legislature have for setting up the institute?

In the Section 14 referred to, the Legislature is specifically prohibited from appropriating any money out of the general revenue for the support of a college or branch university for Negroes. So if it is claimed that Prairie View is either a college or university, then the Legislature has no warrant or support for appropriating any money out of the general funds for its support. But it certainly is not getting any money out of the University fund or the A. & M. fund, and we would like to know where does the Legislature get the money to appropriate for Prairie View?

Blinding Us To Our Rights

As a part of the suit now contemplated against the University of Texas on behalf of Negro youth, ought we not also enjoin the operation of Prairie View, on the ground that there is no authority for the support by the state of the maverick which we now know as Prairie View? All these years we have been assuming that we had to accept Prairie View as a fact, but a close study of the Constitutional provision raises the question as to whether or not Prairie View has not been foisted off on us illegally as a means of blinding us to our rights. When we ask to enter the proper universities of Texas, they tell us about Prairie View, but Prairie View may not exist, legally.

Now despite the fact that the Dallas Morning News carried in its issue of June 18, 1945 a letter from Q. W. Neville, in which Mr. Neville says that the records of Lamar County show that the people voted on November 7, 1882, for the "location of a Colored State university," we have our doubts. If Prairie View was then counted as a branch of the State university, why has it not shared in the university funds? Why was Prairie View known up until a few years ago as an "institute?" If it was an institute, then the provisions of the Constitution have not been complied with, because the Constitution said it must be voted upon as a college or a branch university. We have a suspicion that the acts of the Legislature over the years will establish conclusively for the courts that Prairie View was counted as an institute and not as a branch of the university. If this is true then the people did not vote to establish a college or university as the Constitution provides, and a vote on the situation does not make Prairie View conform in location to the constitutional requirement. Anyway, why don’t Negroes test the matter in the courts?

According to an article in the daily papers for September 8, 1945, public lands donated for education on the university level have paid into the University of Texas’ permanent fund a total of $57,008,449 as of August 31, 1944. Why don’t Negroes file a suit asking for an accounting and their share of the money from the public lands, since the date of the donation of the land? Or at least since November, 1822, [sic] the alleged date when Prairie View was voted on as a branch university? How can the state of Texas donate public lands exclusively to the University of Texas, and prohibit Negroes from attending the university? Even under segregation laws part of that money would have to be provided for a Negro university, to make the University of Texas secure, wouldn’t it?

It was recently discovered that about 1876 the Federal government donated 100,000 acres of land for the education of students in Texas in agricultural and mechanic arts. Up to this date A. & M. college has taken and used all of the money from this land. Why don’t Negro citizens file a suit for an accounting of their share of this 100,000 acres, which was national land, and could not be donated to white schools to the exclusion of Negro schools? Would it not be interesting to have Governor Coke Stevenson and his Legislature trying to get the Federal government to say now that this federally-owned land was donated exclusively for whites?

The above question become more significant in the light of Article 1900, which provides: "All available public school funds for this state shall be appropriated in each county for the education alike of white and colored children, and impartial provision shall be made for both races." It looks like those who have been taking the money that belonged to Negroes are sort of vulnerable, doesn’t it?

When you look at the laws and compare them with what has happened to Negroes in the educational world, it is hard to have patience with the Negroes in our group who are cautioning us to wait twenty-five years, isn’t it?

The act setting up the University of Texas provides that "it shall be open to all person of both sexes in this state on equal terms." Now Negroes are not anxious to enter the University of Texas, but the Whites are so vulnerable in their attempt to prevent Negroes’ entering it, it looks like they ought to be glad to set up comparable educational facilities for Negroes, doesn’t it?

We won’t accept Prairie View as a substitute of the University of Texas. Neither will we accept it as a substitute for A. & M. college. We are in no better mood to accept 3.19 per cent of the appropriations for education for a year, as against 96.81 per cent appropriation for whites. As we have said before, if the whites are pig-headed enough to refuse to make substantial gestures toward equalizing education, we will drag them into the Federal court and expose the glaring inconsistencies and weaknesses which are so evident in the record. Now what Negro is it out there who still want to take issue with us over the stupidity of Negro leaders who have accepted these inequalities as right?