The Daily Texan, 18 October 1950.  Used with permission of The Daily Texan

Cross Is Burned Near Law School

By CHARLIE LEWIS Texas Editorial Assistant

Austin firemen Tuesday night doused a "fiery cross" that burned for more than fifteen minutes near the southern corner of the Law Building. The letters "KKK" were found painted on the building's steps nearest the fire.

A pumper-type truck from the Thirteenth Street Fire Station arrived at the blazing Ku Klux emblem at 11:05 p. m. A single policeman found no clue as to who started the fire.

Students who saw the cross were quick to link the incident with the recent admission of Negro students into Law School. Heman Sweatt, pioneer in the Negro entrance movement, reported no incidents Tuesday that could be linked to the demonstration.

"I spent one of the most cordial days yet in Law School," Sweatt commented in a telephone interview.

"In fact," he continued, "several of the fellows were especially nice to me, and we had some interesting conversations about some of the problems that came up in class.

The cross, which stood six feet tall, was sturdily constructed of 4 by 4's and was wrapped in kerosene-soaked rags.

It was supported by a scaffolding "horse" taken from nearby construction work. The base of the cross, however, had been carefully chiseled to a point, indicting that its builders had originally planned to set it in the ground.

One of the first students to notice the burning emblem was G.P. Pearson, a member of the State House of Representatives.

Pearson and other residents of Robert E. Lee Hall (directly south of the Law Building) were virtually the only students attracted by the incident. Practically all the onlookers stayed across the street until the firemen and policeman arrived.

Comments coming from the clusters of students ranged from outright indignation to words indicating with admiration of the cross-burners.

"The cheapest thing I ever saw," one youngish-looking boy vowed.

"Did you do it?" another student jokingly asked a fried.

"No, but I wish I had though of it," the friend replied.

"I don't know a thing!" another fellow laughed as the police car parked.

"Just some more trouble between those engineers the the law students," surmised an elderly watchman.

"Communists? a Chinese student guessed.

The policeman looked at the cross, the sputtered "Students!"