|Houston Informer, December 28, 1946. Used
with permission of the Houston Informer
Heman M. Sweatt Our "Man of Texas"
[photo, "Heman Sweatt"]As a symbol, Heman Marion Sweatt marks the emergence of the Negro in Texas as an adult and a citizen. Older Negroes have gotten benefits for themselves and for their people by indirection -- pleading, cajoling, making the appeal of the weak and mistreated Negro to some strong white person who would champion their case. These older men always operated in a twilight where deals and compromises and subterfuges could be made.
Heman Sweatt is a bold detail of a new pattern. The old pattern was one in which Negroes were accorded privileges and received gifts from government, from employers, and through other sources of vested white power. Negroes formerly got schools and paved streets and better wages by appealing to the sympathy and humane spirit of those in control. They never got what they deserved but what the powers-that-be were kind enough to give them and were grateful for whatever good white people were willing to give.
What Sweatt has represented shows that the days of Old Black Joe are really gone and the day of Mr. Joseph has come.
Heman Sweatt showed courage in making application for entry to the University of Texas Law school and upon denial suing in the courts for law training in Texas provided by the State. He ran personal risks, which as an extremely intelligent man, he clearly recognized. He may be a persona non grata to employers and men of great influence.
Already the influence of Heman Sweatts action is felt in Texas. Prairie View, the only state supported school for Negroes, has the highest budget ever recommended for that institution in the schools history. The governor of Texas has ready a plan to present to the Texas legislature requesting establishment and financing of a university for Negroes. In years gone by Negroes would have been pitifully grateful for either the large sum requested for Prairie View or the new school. Some of the old guard would be disgustingly thankful now and condemn the young Negro for wanting more. Heman Sweatt is still contesting, through the courts, for training equal to the best provided for any Texan.
Heman Sweatt has made possible the expression of sentiments from Texans that might have gone uncrystallized and undiscovered. Negro representatives from all parts of the state representing a cross-section of Negro organizations met the Governor of Texas and his commission on Higher Education for Negroes and told them directly and clearly that Negroes wanted what the constitution provided for them in education -- nothing less. Never before in this state has such complete unity of the Negro people been shown as that in support of the cause Sweatt represents.
Students of the University of Texas and professors in that institution have gone on public record for Sweatts entry to the university. They did this in meetings and in statements and raised funds to help defray the costs of the fight Sweatt is making. Heman Sweatt has been the instrument to reveal a strong and earnest group of democratic thinking white people in Texas.
We choose Heman Marion Sweatt as the Texan of the year for his personal courage and his representing Negroes in a manner in which we can take pride.
We acclaim him for the influence he has had on educational provisions for Negroes in the state. This influence has been greater than any wielded by Negro educators in a half century. We acclaim him for his influence on colored-white relations in Texas at a respectful and democratic level.