This weekend marks the 130th birthday of George W. McLaurin, born September 16, 1887. He’s the Black man who made history when he won a landmark civil rights lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma (UO).
In 1948, McLaurin was denied admission into UO to pursue his Ph.D. in education because of a state law that made it a crime for Blacks to attend any school with whites. After successfully challenging that law in federal district court, he was admitted into the university over its strong objection. And the officials there decided to humiliate him by segregating and isolating him not only in all classes by putting him in anterooms with a separate desk but also segregating and isolating him in the library, in the cafeteria, in the restrooms, and at sporting events. Think about that level of suffocating humiliation for a minute.
He then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court and on June 5, 1960 won, thereby forcing Oklahoma to end discrimination, segregation, and isolation statewide in all of its schools, colleges, and universities.
The fact that McLaurin was 61-years-old when he applied to UO in 1948, the fact that he held a Master’s degree, and the fact that he was a retired college professor who had taught for 33 years at Oklahoma’s only HBCU, Langston University, didn’t matter to those racists. They considered him to be nothing more than an educated n——.
Many Black students who attend white colleges and universities today are knowing or unknowing victims in an abusive relationship with those schools even though the historical (and modern day) record clearly exposes that abuse. Education for Blacks was outlawed in all schools from elementary on up since slavery became law of the land in 1619. Speaking of law, there was legislation throughout the country similar to a 1740 South Carolina law that proclaimed “(It) shall be unlawful” for “all… slaves or free Negroes…” to be taught “reading or writing. And any… (judges)… may… direct… any officers… to inflict corporal punishment” on the educated slaves or free Negroes “not exceeding 20 lashes.”
That abuse continued with the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott ruling that Blacks have no rights (educational or otherwise) that whites are bound to respect and its 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that Jim Crow is acceptable based on the “separate is equal” fallacy.
And if you think that academic abuse ended with the overruling of the Plessy case by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case known as Brown I, consider this: Although the court ruled that educational Jim Crow is outlawed because “separate but equal is unconstitutional,” that decision in reality wasn’t worth the paper it was written on since most states ignored it because the feds didn’t enforce it. Then came the vague 1955 Brown II “all deliberate speed” decision. But that moved just as slowly. Then came the tardy 1978 Brown III (what I describe as the) “we supposedly mean it this time” decision. But that wasn’t supposedly implemented until 1998. And, it still hasn’t been fully implemented.
Even worse, just ten years ago, read more