Desegregation, 1963

Portrait of four of the first five African American women to enroll at Southwest Texas State College (SWT), Registrar's Office, February 4, 1963

Until 1963, Southwest Texas State College (now Texas State University) operated under the whites only provision in the legislative charter that established the college; only an act of the State Legislature or a court order could make it possible for the college to admit black students.

Dana Smith, an 18-year-old black woman, filed a complaint against the college, alleging that the college’s whites only admissions policy abrogated rights granted to her under the United States Constitution. In August 1962, Attorney [J. Phillip] Crawford filed suit number 1305 in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. on Monday, February 4, 1963, Judge Rice signed the court order that ended segregation at SWT. His order instructed the college to “forthwith admit and enroll the said plaintiff, Dana Jean Smith, to said Southwest Texas State College, and to the utilization and participation in all of the education facilities...on the same basis as all others entitled thereto.”  By 3:15 that afternoon, Miss Smith and three other black women from San Marcos, Georgia Faye HoodyeGloria Odoms, and Mabeleen Washington, registered for classes assisted by the registrar, Clem Jones. On Tuesday, Helen Jackson, another black student enrolled. Because the court order was not issued until after regular registration had been completed, the women enrolled in the registrar’s office.

Text from The African-American Presence at SWT: Celebrating Forty Years, 1963-2003.

Negative no. 1963-0089_01

Image from the University Negative Collection.
University Archives, Texas State University.

Digitized and printed by the Digital Media Lab.