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Desegregation in Austin

Five Decades of Social Change: A Timeline

This web project presents an annotated chronology of major events in the desegregation of Austin, Texas, from 1940 to 1980 as they appeared in local newspapers and other materials such as the Austin Files (AF) in the archives at the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. The timeline is intended as a guide to key events necessary for an understanding of this extraordinary time in the city’s history.



Local African American firsts Local African American firsts
University of Texas at Austin (UT) facts University of Texas at Austin (UT) facts
Local desegregation facts Local desegregation facts
Statewide desegregation facts Statewide desegregation facts
National desegregation facts National desegregation facts

Note: The Austin American-Statesman newspaper had several name changes over the five decades covered in this timeline. The variations reflect usage for that time—Austin Statesman, The Austin Statesman, The Austin-Statesman, The Austin American, The Austin American-Statesman, American Statesman, The American-Statesman, Austin American-Statesman.

overview | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | all


University of Texas at Austin (UT) facts Follow this link to Austin History Center photograph PICA 12483 In a unanimous decision, The University of Texas Board of Regents votes to admit African American undergraduate students starting in the fall semester, 1956. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (1)-University of Texas; The Austin-Statesman, “U.T. Regents Vote To Admit Negroes,” July 08, 1955]
Local desegregation facts The Austin School Board orders that racial barriers be removed at the city’s high schools. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1950s; The American-Statesman, “Change Starting At Top,” August 09, 1955]
Statewide desegregation facts Governor Allan Shivers warns Texas school districts that if they desegregate, they may be “jeopardizing the funds they are eligible to receive under the Gilmer-Aikin program if integration is prematurely effected.” [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1950s; The Austin Statesman, “Schools Risk Fund Loss by Integration,” August 21, 1955]
Local desegregation facts African American couples attend the first integrated dance jointly sponsored by Stephen F. Austin and McCallum High Schools. “There was no mixed dancing reported.” [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1950s; The American-Statesman, “Negro Couples Attend McCallum-SFA Dance,” September 11, 1955]
Statewide desegregation facts On Oct. 7, L. Clifford Davis, an African American lawyer from Fort Worth, files a class action lawsuit in the United States Federal Court requesting the integration and admittance of black high school students into Mansfield High School, in Mansfield, Texas just southeast of Fort Worth. [Ladino, Robyn Duff, Desegregating Texas Schools: Eisenhower, Shivers, and the Crisis at Mansfield High. 1997]
Local desegregation facts Arthur De Witty, public relations officer for the Austin Chapter of the NAACP in Austin, secures an attorney to aid in the case of Mrs. Howellen Taylor who has been charged with “violating the state Jim Crow Law” by refusing a driver’s request to move to the back of the bus. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1950s; The Austin Statesman, “Segregation On Busses Gets Appeal,” December 16, 1955]
Local desegregation facts An Interstate Commerce Commission order ended segregation on interstate trains and busses in Texas. [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1950s; The Austin American, “ICC Order ‘Integrates’ Terminals,” December 26, 1955]
Local desegregation facts Austin Chapter of the NAACP public relations officer, Arthur DeWitty, announces the intention of the organization to take the case of Mrs. Howellen Taylor to the Texas Supreme Court in an attempt to get clarification of the law on segregation on public conveyances “if necessary.” [AF-Segregation-Public Schools-S1700 (2)-1955; The Austin American, “NAACP Pushes City Test Case,” December 26, 1955]
National desegregation facts In December, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man, an event that sparked the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement [Timelines of African-American History: 500 Years of Black Achievement by Thomas Dale Cowan and Jack Maguire, 1995]