Advancing Democracy

African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas

By Amilcar Shabazz

320 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 8 illus., 5 tables, 1 map, 1 fig., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5505-8
    Published: January 2004
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7598-8
    Published: November 2005

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Awards & distinctions

2004 T. R. Fehrenbach Book Award, Texas Historical Commission

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), it is important to consider the historical struggles that led to this groundbreaking decision. Four years earlier in Texas, the Sweatt v. Painter decision allowed blacks access to the University of Texas's law school for the first time. Amilcar Shabazz shows that the development of black higher education in Texas--which has historically had one of the largest state college and university systems in the South--played a pivotal role in the challenge to Jim Crow education.

Shabazz begins with the creation of the Texas University Movement in the 1880s to lobby for equal access to the full range of graduate and professional education through a first-class university for African Americans. He traces the philosophical, legal, and grassroots components of the later campaign to open all Texas colleges and universities to black students, showing the complex range of strategies and the diversity of ideology and methodology on the part of black activists and intellectuals working to promote educational equality. Shabazz credits the efforts of blacks who fought for change by demanding better resources for segregated black colleges in the years before Brown, showing how crucial groundwork for nationwide desegregation was laid in the state of Texas.

About the Author

Amilcar Shabazz is a professor in the department of American studies and director of the African American studies program at the University of Alabama. He is coeditor of The Forty Acres Documents: What Did the United States Really Promise the People Freed from Slavery?
For more information about Amilcar Shabazz, visit the Author Page.


"From the 1880s to the ultimate desegregation of all the state's colleges and universities, Advancing Democracy demonstrates how the Texas experience was a beacon for desegregation movements in other states."--Black Issues Book Review

"[A] deeply researched monograph."--Journal of American History

"Exhibits an engaging, lively writing style. . . . The students and local leaders in this tradition of sacrifice are at the heart of this excellent historical work."--American Historical Review

"Shabazz is adept at narrating the history of desegregation at numerous state-supported colleges, private universities, and religious institutions. . . . He is also skilled at illustrating the dialogue between black activists and white officials. . . . A nicely balanced account,"--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"Fills a void in the history of educational history and the Civil Rights movement in Texas. . . . [Shabazz's] well researched and well-written book will emerge as the standard work on the topic, and introduces themes that future historians will build upon."--Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"A compelling, readable effort to excavate the individuals and organizations, from the grassroots to the bureaucratic level, responsible for advancing the cause of equity in education in a state that is often a bell-wether for race relations in the South. . . . While this volume will be of particular interest to those associated with Texas higher education, there is much to interest any student of civil rights history and education."--Harvard Educational Review