Friday, July 16, 2010

More on Tom Russell, the Klansman, and the University of Texas

Update: the Regents of the University of Texas voted yesterday to change the name of Simkins Hall. As a result of all of this, Tom is one of CNN's Intriguing People this week.

We noted earlier that Tom Russell of the University of Denver posted an SSRN paper that has generated an effort to rename a University of Texas dormitory that was named for a Klansman. With news that UT President William Powers, Jr., is now asking the Regents to change the dorm name, Russell has this post today at Huffington Post:
In her diary in 1916, Virginia Woolf referred to legal history as "something that matters to no one; & will never be used, seen, or read."

Ten weeks ago, my 48-page legal history paper started a Texas-sized controversy about a University of Texas dormitory named for a Klan leader.

UT first admitted African-American students in 1950 after the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund lawyers beat Texas before the US Supreme Court in Sweatt v. Painter. Four years later, the great NAACP lawyers won Brown v. Board of Education.
Russell goes on to explain that in the aftermath of Brown, the University of Texas decided to name a dorm in honor of William Stewart Simkins. The SSRN paper is `Keep the Negroes Out of Most Classes Where There Are a Large Number of Girls': The Unseen Power of the Ku Klux Klan and Standardized Testing at The University of Texas, 1899-1999.

Read the rest of Tom's op-ed at Huffington Post.

There is more today on Inside Higher Education, and You can follow developments at the Simkins Blog. And Tom has more info and resources on-line at House of Russell.



Tom Russell said...

Thanks for the post, Mary!

Interested readers can find an up-to-date compendium of media and blog coverage of the Simkins dorm issue at

There's a link to the original paper there as well.

Shag from Brookline said...

Conservatives dare not to attack Brown v. Board of Education directly (including on the basis of originalism). But their underlying resentment is demonstrated by attacks on the late Thurgood Marshall, who had as a private attorney a major role in Brown. This resentment was demonstrated during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Elena Kagan, who clerked for Justice Marshall, and who was nominated by the first African American President (ever) elected some 54 years after Brown. Nixon's 1968 Southern Strategy is still in play.