Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Burnt Orange White Supremacists: Racism At The University Of Texas

The University of Texas at Austin's tower with the Littlefield Fountain (which honors the Confederate States of America) in the foreground.  It's a fine school, except for its nasty history of racism.   (Photo from http://www.photohome.com/photos/texas-pictures/austin/ut-tower-1.html).  

One of the bigger news stories last week concerned Stephanie Eisner, a University of Texas student who drew a racist cartoon that appeared in the print and online versions of the campus newspaper.  The cartoon referred to Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old Florida youth recently shot to death by a neighborhood watch captain, as a “colored boy.”  The cartoon suggested that we should question the innocence of the African American teenager, who was carrying nothing more deadly than a bag of Skittles and a can of ice tea.

This represents only the most recent disturbing chapter in the campus’ troubled racial history.  Former slaveowners, Confederate Army veterans, and segregationist Democrats created the University of Texas in the late 19th century.  In spite of its modern reputation as a liberal haven in an ultra-conservative state, in the last 20 years  “The University” (as its administrators proudly call it) spawned a new generation of white supremacists students, even as some faculty members at the institution built their careers demeaning black and Latino intelligence.  Instead of supporting Democrats, many of the more recent racists vote Republican.  To the embarrassment of the institution, such students and faculty made national headlines from such incidents as:

  • The Texas Student Publications Board insisting on printing an advertisement denying the Holocaust in the Daily Texan newspaper
  • A tenured Republican law professor claiming that black and brown students can’t academically compete with whites.
  • Law students throwing a “Ghetto Fabulous” party in which they wore blackface and, enacting racial stereotypes, carried 40 oz. cans of malt liquor.
  • A football player calling President Barack Obama a “nigger” on Facebook.
  • The president of the Young Republicans resigning after imagining on social media how nice it would be if Obama were assassinated, only to be replaced by another student who writes crude rap lyrics about the president using crack  and posts them online.

Stephanie Eisner's cartoon about the Trayvon Martin case was only the most recent example in on-campus racism at Texas' largest university.  (Image taken from  http://gawker.com/5896863/university-of-texas-student-paper-wins-most-racist-trayvon-martin-cartoon-contes)

Most in Texas see the university as a “hippie” school (particularly in comparison with the extremely conservative environment prevailing at rival Texas A&M.)  Austin itself is proudly “weird,” a long time home to the kind of nonconformists depicted lovingly in the film Slackers. 

The university today is top-notch and has employed many star professors who have used their academic careers to battle racism, such as sociologist Joe R. Feagin (now at Texas A&M), historians Neil Foley (my dissertation advisor) and David Montejano, and journalism professor Robert Jensen.  Yet, over its 129-year history UT has more often been defined by intolerance and exclusion.

The University of Texas opened as a segregated institution in 1883 and its doors remained completely closed to African Americans until the United States Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of the UT law school in the 1950 Sweatt v. Painter decision.  The campus itself is in many ways a shrine to white supremacy. 

Statues of Jefferson Davis (who served as president of the Confederate States of America), Robert E. Lee, (who led the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia), John H. Reagan (a Texan who served as Postmaster General of the Confederacy); and Albert Sidney Johnson (another Texan who served as a Confederate General  and was killed in the Battle of Shiloh) decorate the university’s so-called South Mall, described by the Austin American Statesman as a “long, gently sloping promenade of live oaks, lawn and concrete.”   The mall also includes statues of a Southern slaveholding president, George Washington, and Woodrow Wilson. 

A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis overlooks the University of Texas’ South Mall, one of several on-campus tributes to the region’s slaveholding past.  (Photo from http://www.statesman.com/news/local/questions-linger-regarding-confederate-statues-at-ut-711436.html.)

As sociologist James Loewen documents in his brilliant book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, Wilson was an outspoken bigot even by the standards of his time.  He served as president of Princeton University in the first decade of the twentieth century when it became the only major school in the Northeast that still refused to admit African Americans.  His wife —Edith Bolling Wilson — enjoyed telling "darky" stories during the cabinet meetings she frequently attended.  Wilson used his power as chief executive to segregate federal government departments, to create separate eating and restroom facilities for black and white federal employees and phased out African Americans from most civil service jobs,  policies not fully dismantled until the 1950s and 1960s. 

The filmmaker D.W. Griffith extensively drew on Wilson's two-volume history of the United States, now notorious for its racist depiction of the Reconstruction South, when writing the shooting script for his silent movie epic glorifying the Ku Klux Klan, The Birth of a Nation.  At a private showing of the movie at the White House, Wilson gushed over  the pro-Klan film. "It is like writing history with lightening and my only regret is that it is all so true!"  Griffin used this quote in a title card that opened the movie  (See http://www.statesman.com/news/local/questions-linger-regarding-confederate-statues-at-ut-711436.html and http://www.texasexes.org/alcalde/feature.asp?p=2056.  Loewen’s book can be obtained at http://www.amazon.com/Lies-My-Teacher-Told-Everything/dp/0743296281/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333295717&sr=8-1.)

A Confederate war veteran and early major UT benefactor, George Littlefield, contributed around $3 million to the school and commissioned Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini to sculpt the statues of Wilson, Lee and the others. Having served with Terry's Texas Rangers during the Civil War, Littlefield grew filthy rich as a rancher and a banker.  He served as a UT regent beginning in 1911 and greatly shaped the architecture at the heart of the campus, a legacy that remains today.  The UT Tower faces south, towards all those statues of slaveholders, so the university can figuratively turn its face away from the damned Yankees who ended the Peculiar Institution. 

A Confederate veteran, George W. Littlefield served as regent of the University of Texas and paid for the Confederate statuary that still dots the campus today.   He died in 1920.  (Photo from http://www.texashighways.com/index.php/component/content/article/105-speaking-archive/6381-speaking-of-texas-littlefields-legacy).

Angered by what he saw as the pro-Northern bias in many of the textbooks used at UT, the former Southern soldier saw to it that the campus paid proper tribute to the Confederacy's "noble" cause. As Avrei Seale wrote in the school’s alumni magazine The Acalde, Littlefield  “dedicated much of his fortune to ensuring that The University of Texas was sufficiently branded as a South-centric institution. He endowed the Littlefield Fund for Southern History to promote library acquisitions of materials relating to the South . . .”  The South Mall ends with the Littlefield Fountain, an odd work of art that includes (among other bizarre features) horses with webbed feet rising from the water.  It’s intended as a war memorial, but Littlefield again wanted to commemorate the South’s “Lost Cause” and had the fountain inscribed with this message:

“To the men and women of the Confederacy, who fought with valor and suffered with fortitude that states rights be maintained and who, not dismayed by defeat nor discouraged by misrule, builded from the ruins of a devastating war a greater South and to the men and women of the nation who gave of their possessions and of their lives that free government be made secure to the peoples of the earth this memorial is dedicated.”

To the rich Southerner, no contradiction existed between a "free government" and human bondage. The sculptor Coppini begged Littlefield to leave off the tribute to the slaveowning South.   “As time goes by, they will look to the Civil War as a blot on the pages of American history, and the Littlefield Memorial will be resented as keeping up the hatred between the Northern and Southern states,” the artist pleaded to his patron.  Littlefield, however, believed that the pro-Confederate message was the most important part of the fountain and it remains to this day. ((For more, see http://www.texasexes.org/alcalde/feature.asp?p=2056).  

A detail from the odd Littlefield Fountain, a war memorial inscribed with a tribute to the Confederacy that marks the front of the South Mall at the University of Texas.  (Photo from http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/vol16/issue52/xtra.UTguide/UTdesc.html).

For years, UT featured a dormitory named after William Stewart Simkins, a legendary law professor at the school and, unfortunately, one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan in Florida during the Reconstruction Era. An irritable heavy drinker, Simkins taught at UT from 1899 until 1929.  Born in South Carolina, he attended the Citadel military academy in Charleston and some claimed that he fired the first shot in the Civil War during the Battle of Fort Sumter. 

Simkins said later that his family lost property in South Carolina after the war because of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's "Special Order No. 15."  The order seized abandoned property owned by Confederates on the Georgia and South Carolina coasts and distributed it to penniless and suddenly homeless freedmen.  Simkins would characterize this action as theft, ignoring that slaveowners like him had stolen the bodies of their chattel and had expropriated  the profits created by their human property.  In any case, the Congress passed legislation to reverse Sherman's military order.

Nevertheless, Simkins moved to Florida after the defeat of the Confederacy.  With his brother Eldred, he helped establish the Sunshine State’s chapter of the KKK during Reconstruction in the late 1860s.  He often laughingly told stories about violently terrorizing Northern-born residents of the state –- whom he sneeringly called “carpetbaggers” – and newly freed African Americans.   Simkins bragged in a 1914 speech at UT, later reprinted as an article for the UT alumni publication Alcalde two years later, about his Klan days. .

Longtime University of Texas law professor William Simkins, who helped established the Ku Klux Klan in Florida during Reconstruction.  The above portrait has had a place of honor for years at the University of Texas law school.  A bust of Simkins used to be on display at the UT law library.  Students facing major exams would rub the head of the bust for good luck.  In 1954, the UT regents voted to name a dormitory after him. (For more, see http://deadconfederates.com/2010/07/12/william-stewart-simkins-the-klan-and-the-law-school/ and http://www.houseofrussell.com/legalhistory/alh/docs/simkins.html).

Simkins clearly enjoyed recalling the fear the Klan caused the freedmen.  “We worked, of course, upon the fears and superstitions of the negroes, performing before their cabins at night apparently supernatural stunts,” Simkins said in his Alcalde article. “The immediate effect upon the negro was wonderful, the flitting to and fro of masked horses and faces struck terror to the race, and any belated negro on the road at night who saw us coming never stood on the order of his going. The spirit of ‘dem Ku Kluxers,’ as they called us, guarded the roads at night; in a word, the night prowlers now were satisfied to remain at home.

He relished relating stories in which he violently assaulted African Americans who dared violate the rules of white supremacy.  “. . . I was staying at the hotel in my town when one morning a lady came in apparently quite frightened and in tears,” he said. “I asked her what troubled her. She said she had been insulted by a negro. Ascertaining the name of the negro I seized a barrel stave lying near the hotel door and whipped that darkey down the street and into the Freedman's Bureau. While an information was filed against me they sent the negro out of town and dismissed the information without any effort on my part to interfere with the prosecution.” 

 In those days "insulting a white woman" could mean that a black person had looked directly into a white women's eyes or had not stepped off the sidewalk fast enough to make way for a white woman, or failing to bow and scrape with enough enthusiasm.  At the same time the white rape of black women went unpunished.   This law professor bragged about committing a felonious assault and never saw this as a violation of the professional code of ethics.  Throughout his life, Simkins did not believe that any law applied to African Americans except those of the Southern caste system.

Simkins did not confine his lawbreaking to ordinary freedman.  The victims of his violence also included black officeholders.  .” . . Now in the same town there was a negro by the name of Robert Meacham who was a prototype of the negro Lynch whose influence is portrayed in the ‘Birth of a Nation,’” Simkins wrote, referring to the film which had been released just the year before.

“Robert had been brought up as a domestic servant in a refined Southern family and absorbed much of the courteous manner of the old regime. He had been highly honored by the Republican party; in fact, had been made temporary chairman of the so-called Constitutional Convention heretofore referred to. He was at the time of which I am now speaking State Senator and Postmaster in the town. I could hardly exaggerate his influence among the negroes; glib of tongue, he swayed them to his purpose whether for good or evil; in a word, he was their idol. On one occasion he was delivering a very radical speech in which he referred to the paper which we were editing as that ‘dirty little sheet.’ He was correct as to the word ‘little,’ for it was not much larger than a good size pocket handkerchief; but it was exceedingly warm, a fact which had excited his ire. The next day, being informed by a friend who was present of Meacham's remark, I called upon him at the post-office and asked an interview. 

"With his usual courtesy he bowed and said he would come over to my office as soon as he had distributed the mail. I cut a stick, carried it up to the office and hid it under my desk. Within an hour he appeared. I told him to take a seat, but I could see that he suspected something unusual as he began to back towards the door. I saw that I was going to lose the opportunity of an interview, so I grabbed the stick and made for him. Now, my office was the upper story of a merchandise building approached on the side by wooden stairs. I hardly think that he touched one of those steps going down; it was a case of aerial navigation to the ground. This gave him the start of me. He was pursued up to the postoffice door and through a street filled with negroes and yet not a hand was raised or word said in his defense, nor was the incident ever noticed by the authorities. The unseen power was behind me. Had I attempted anything of the kind a year before I would have been mobbed or suffered the penalties of the law."  (For the full text of Simkins article in the Alcalde, see http://www.houseofrussell.com/legalhistory/alh/docs/simkins.html). 

A portrait of Simkins was still hanging in a place of honor at the University of Texas law school the last time I was in the building about a decade ago.  A bust of Simkins used to grace the UT law library and a tradition began among law students facing big exams of rubbing the top of the sculpture for good luck.  The head had been rubbed smooth by the time I saw the artwork.  It was removed from the libary while I was a Ph.D. student at UT from 1995-2002.

In 1954,  the United States Supreme Court issued its Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared that segregated public schools violated the United States Constitution.  Four years earlier, the justices had ordered the University of Texas to admit an African American, Heman Sweatt to its law school.  Perhaps in defiant protest, the Board of Regents in 1954 voted to name a dormitory in honor of a Klansman.  Simkins Hall kept its name until changed by the University regent to Creekside Residence Hall in 2010.  The name change happened largely through the efforts of a former University of Texas law professor Tom Russell, who now teaches at the University of Denver.  Russell's research uncovered Simkins' connection to the Klan, an resume item well-known earlier tin the century .  (For more, see http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/05/24/university-texas-considers-renaming-dorm-kkk-link/).

Meanwhile, a controversy now surrounds the Confederate statues in the South Mall, with some proposing the removal and storage of the old statues and replacement with art representing the state's diversity, some advocating the sale of the Confederate tributes, and others calling for their placement in a central location where new signs would explain their historical context and the school's racial history.  (For more on this, see http://www.texasexes.org/alcalde/feature.asp?p=2056).

Simkins Hall was not renamed Creekside Residence Hall until 2010.  (http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/russell-on-legacy-of-segregation-at.html and http://chronicle.com/article/U-of-Texas-Regents-Strike-Off/66298/)

This heavy atmosphere of white terror did not lift from the school upon desegregation.  Heman Marion Sweatt forced open the doors of the UT law school to African Americans in 1950.  An NAACP activist in Houston since the early 1940s and a columnist for the local black-owned newspaper the Informer, Sweatt plunged into fundraising drives for the NAACP’s lawsuit against the so-called “white primary.”  Democratic rules in Texas barred blacks from voting in primaries which, given the party’s almost complete monopoly on elective office in the first half of the twentieth century, left African Americans with no voice in partisan political races.  The NAACP successfully persuaded the United States Supreme Court to declare the white primary unconstitutional in the 1944 Smith v. Allwright case.

Heman Sweat, the postal employee, who battled to attend the University of Texas' segregated law school and prevailed before the United States  Supreme Court in 1950. (http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/37/3795/EWIIF00Z/posters/heman-sweatt-an-african-american-mailman-who-has-registered-at-texas-univeristy-law-school.jpg). 
A postal carrier, Sweatt fought against discriminatory policies that blocked African Americans in Texas from higher-paying positions as clerks.  His work on that issue got him interested in law.  Sweatt considered attending law school in Michigan, but changed his mind when his father suffered a heart attack.  

At the urging of Dallas NAACP attorney W.J. Durham, Sweatt applied to the UT Law School, aware that the school was legally vulnerable to litigation since the state of Texas had failed to provide a law school for African American students. Sweatt applied, was turned down and on May 16, 1946 filed the Sweatt v. Painter case that became one of the  building blocks for the later, more famous Brown decision in which the United States Supreme Court ruled against “separate but equal” schools.
The state of Texas scrambled to provide sham law schools for blacks, in an attempt to avoid a federal desegregation order.  At the University of Texas, regents set aside a basement in a building south of the campus on Thirteenth Street where black students could receive law instruction from the most junior members of the faculty, although African Americans would not have direct access to the law library or other resources.  Only one black student, Henry Doyle, attended the Jim Crow classes.  The NAACP refused to accept this dodge and battled until it successfully argued its case before the Supreme Court.
After the Sweatt decision, the University of Texas admitted 22 African Americans out of a total enrollment of 12,000, with six of the black students enrolled in law classes. Sweatt and the NAACP won their legal battle to attend previously all-white universities, but softening the hearts of their Anglo fellow students would prove another matter. Literally schooled to hate and fear black Americans, Texas’ best and brightest usually treated their new back peers with attitudes ranging from indifference at best to condescension to outright hatred. If black students successfully attended Texas universities and entered the professional classes in large numbers, the entire theoretical basis for Texas’ racial hierarchy would topple.  White college students served as shock troops defending the ancien regime.

Heman Sweattg stands in line for registration.  (Photo from http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2004/dorn.html).
Marion Sweatt had to attend his first day of law school at the University of Texas as newspaper camera bulbs flashed around him.  Some professors, such as Charles McCormick and Jerre Williams, provided support and a sympathetic ear, but other members of the UT law faculty insulted Sweatt and treated him with contempt.  Dean Page Keeton, who had privately assisted NAACP counsel Thurgood Marshall with the Sweatt case, apparently worried about alumni who might be angered over Sweatt’s admission.  Keeton cracked under the pressure of publicity, berating Sweatt for the press attention given his registration and warning him against further “NAACP showmanship.”
According to Texas NAACP historian Michael Gillette, the reactions of whites to Sweatt and the five other American Americans in the program were mixed.  Most were agreeable, Sweatt said, and he and the other integration pioneers encountered few problems as they sought access to water fountains, restrooms, school dining facilities, lounges and  football games.  The Friday of his first week at UT, however, Sweatt discovered, after studying late at the law library, that a large white crowd had gathered across the street and was burning a cross.  Accompanied by a white friend, Sweatt made it safely to his car, only to discover that the tires had been slashed.  Although a few campus liberals offered condolence, UT officials largely ignored the incident and Austin police never made an arrest in the case.

The intense scrutiny of the press, the racism of faculty and students, and financial pressure destroyed Sweatt’s marriage during his two years at UT and undermined his academic performance.  Poor health added to Sweatt’s difficulties as he battled a painful ulcer and missed seven weeks of classes after suffering appendicitis.  He failed courses in his first year, audited the classes he failed in the fall of 1951, and re-enrolled in the spring semester of 1952, but he subsequently dropped out.
Sadly, Sweatt’s experience was not unique.  George Washington, Jr., of Dallas, one of six integration pioneers at the law school, described the atmosphere as “icy and uncomfortable.”  One time during a class, Washington later recalled, a student nonchalantly used the word “nigger.”  Washington said he attributed this to the student’s ignorance and was ready to ignore the provocation, but he sensed white liberals in the class wanted to respond, “so I turned around and looked at the fellow with as stern a look as I could muster.”  Washington said he never heard the word uttered again.

As soon as the Supreme Court, in the Sweatt v. Painter case, desegregated the university's professional and graduate schools, other African Americans bravely registered at the school.  Here, John Saunders Chase enrolls in UT's master's program in architecture in 1950.  Chase later enjoyed a successful career.  Such students, however, suffered brutal harassment from white students and even faculty members.  (Photo from http://www.utexas.edu/features/2008/chase/).  
The integration of the University of Texas took place in the larger context of Austin desegregation, which may have added to the bitterness of the struggle.  Segregation in downtown Austin and the area around the UT campus presented a formidable challenge to African Americans seeking a water fountain or a place to go to the bathroom.  When one African American, Dr. Connnie Yearwood, began working for the Texas Public Health Service in 1937, she had to walk about 10 blocks from her workplace to her East Austin home when she needed to go to the bathroom.  

By 1960, black students still were barred from UT housing, drama productions, student teaching program, the Longhorn Band and athletic teams (even in 1969, the national championship Longhorns football team didn't have a single black player),  African American women shopping at a white-owned downtown store like Scarbrough’s had to put paper on their heads if they wanted to try on a hat and could not try on a dress at all. Restaurants on Congress Avenue closed their doors entirely to black customers.  The restaurants on the ‘Drag” (Guadalupe Street alongside the campus) still enforced segregation in the early and mid-1960s and students conducted “stand-ins” in movie ticket lines in a long, hard struggle to desegregate area movie theaters.

African Americans, of course were not the only targets of segregation in the Lone Star State.  A restaurant in Dimmit, Texas, displayed this sign.  Austin's segregation laws created constant obstacles for African Americans even after they won the right to attend the University of Texas and businesses along Guadalupe Street, the so-called "Drag" on the fringe of the campus, remained segregated until deep into the 1960s. (Photo from http://www.cah.utexas.edu/ssspot/lesson_plans/lesson_4.php).

By 1956, the University of Texas regents finally admitted black undergraduates, who were subjected to now-familiar slights and humiliations. Bettye McAdams later remembered feeling total social isolation at the University of Texas.  They were forced to live in below-par, segregated dorms located off-campus, and barred from participation in school athletics and prohibited from patronizing many local businesses along “The Drag” near the heart of campus. The UT administration and local business owners kept blacks at the margins of campus life. “The great bulk of the students chose to ignore us,” said McAdams, who lived in a dorm at the present-day Huston-Tillotson campus several blocks from the university. Not until 1964, 14 years after Sweatt v. Painter, did UT regents allow African Americans to live in integrated housing on campus.
Linda Lewis lived on campus, but faced her own unique set of challenges.  Only about two African American students lived on each floor of the ‘integrated” dormitories provided in the mid-1960s.  White students, most of whom graduated from the racism factories that were the Texas public schools, had experienced black individuals only as abstractions and found black college students an absolute novelty.  Lewis recalled that she and other black students were “constantly barraged with questions about any and every detail of [our] lives and [our] thoughts,” by Anglos who wanted to know what black people ate, how they dressed their hair, and how they viewed politics and current events.  This represented innocent curiosity, but still became exhausting to young women who found themselves appointed spokespersons for their race. 

Lewis remembered how she often needed to take time out “with only Black people” to maintain her sense of self-worth.  Well into the 1960s, African American men and women continued a lonely battle to be treated as normal students.  Harriett Murphy, later to become a municipal judge in Austin, remembered that when she attended UT’s law school, she was for two years the only black student out of 1,500 students.  “This was 20 years after Sweatt v. Painter,” she said, “ . . . and the school had demonstrated no real progress.”  (Most of the above account of integration at the University of Texas came from Amilcar Sabazz's Advancing Democracy: African Americans And The Struggle For Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas; Michael Gilette's Ph.D. dissertation from the University of Texas, "The NAACP In Texas, 1937-1957" and Dwonna Goldstone's Integrating The 40 Acres: The Fifty-Year Struggle For Racial Equality At The University Of Texas.)

Not all UT students or faculty members were mean-spirited or intolerant.  Some treated pioneer African American students with respect.  Folklorist J. Frank Dobie taught at the university, recorded black and Mexican folktales in the state, and basically sponsored the writing career of important African American folklorist J. Mason Brewer. A University of Texas graduate, Alan Lomax, also preserved African American folklore and recorded for history traditional black freedom and work songs.  Without Lomax, important black artists like Leadbelly may have faded from memory.   By the 1960s, white students participated in protests against segregation on campus and along "The Drag" -- the collection of stores, restaurants and clubs on Guadalupe Street on the fringe of the campus.   Such figures, sadly, did not represent the norm in Jim Crow-era Austin.

Some UT students did support integration, such as the protestors pictured here from a 1965 rally. (http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2004/dorn.html).

Racism at UT survived desegregation.   The university still does not have a reputation as a tolerant place in the African American community.  Between 1980 and 1990, during the traditional spring social event called "Roundup," on at least five occasions floats in a parade sponsored by fraternities ridiculed African Americans and Mexican Americans as well as gay people.  The traditional parades ended because of these repeated incidents and Roundup turned into a series of disconnected fraternity and sorority parties held on the West campus.  (See http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2011/04/13/racial-conflicts-tarnish-history-roundup)

On November 2, 1989, five members of the Delta Gamma fraternity assaulted a Latino family sleeping in a van near their worksite.   The assailant claimed they made the attack because they thought their victims were homeless and posed a threat to an Austin neighborhood.  Interfraternity Council President Larry Dubinski insisted that the incident was not motivated by racial hatred.  (See http://www.utwatch.org/timeline.html).

Even as black and Latino enrollment at UT lagged far below the numbers these groups represented in the state as a whole, racist incidents began occurring with alarming regularity beginning in 1990.  That year, African Americans still made up only 3.7 percent of the student body.  By the spring of 1990, someone spray-painted the phrases “Fuck Coons” and “Fuck You Nigs Die” on an old car sitting in the driveway of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house.    That same semester, the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity passed out t-shirts that joined the body of basketball superstar Michael Jordan with a “Sambo” head featuring big lips and eyes.

UT’s fraternities, four decades after the Brown decision, remained mostly lilly-white, overwhelmingly Gentile, and composed of priveleged, political conservatives who voted Republican.  An African American lesbian, Toni Luckett, had won the presidency of the student government that year and she led a protest outside of the Fiji house, where the picketers chanted, “Hey, hey, ho-ho, racist frat boys have got to go.”  Fraternities suffered some embarrassment, but the insular, racist, elitist culture pervading Greek Row remained untouched. 

 UT frat boys remained equal opportunity bigots, holding in 1990 a “Blue Collar Party” to mock working class people, a “Jamaican Party” in which attendees were asked to wear blackface, and a “Drag Worm” Party ridiculing the homeless people who have historically gathered on Guadalupe Street.  Many suspected that fraternity boys knocked down a wooden shanty constructed in the West Mall to protest black poverty under the apartheid regime in South Africa.  (For more, see http://books.google.com/books?id=cisEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA165&lpg=PA165&dq=%22University+of+Texas%22+AND+%22Fraternity%22+and+%22racist%22&source=bl&ots=FmGdYogYn7&sig=sqcFtUvg9qArdFxGH8qxYrMaTSA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JBFzT6PVNMKO2AXTiIX0Dg&ved=0CEcQ6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=%22University%20of%20Texas%22%20AND%20%22Fraternity%22%20and%20%22racist%22&f=false)

Stephanie Eisner certainly didn’t invent racism and insensitivity at The Daily Texan.  The newspaper stirred national controversy when it tried to run a full-page advertisement paid for by Bradley Smith, a California Holocaust denier and white supremacist.  The ad presented false claims to argue that the Nazi slaughter of Jews in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s never happened. Smith’s ad focused one falsehood widely circulated about the Holocaust – that the fat of Jewish victims was used to make soap – to suggest that all proven data about the Shoah could be dismissed as well.  As Deborah Lipstaadt writes in her groundbreaking history of Neo-Nazi attempts to erase the anti-Jewish genocide, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth And Memory, Matthew Connally (the editor of the Daily Texan) had wanted to run an earlier ad submitted by Smith but had second thoughts when he discovered the man’s anti-black racism and Hitler-sympathizing politics.  

Holocaust denier Bradley Smith in his Facebok profile photo.  (See https://www.facebook.com/Bradley1930).

Connally, however, decided in favor of printing the new Smith "advertorial" and he received backing from John Murphy, a professor of advertising and public relations and a vocal member of the newspaper’s governing Texas Student Publications Board.  Murphy declared he wanted the Daily Texan to “publish divergent and unpopular opinion.”  Many students on the editorial board objected. Some suggested that the staff should protest by running nothing but blank pages except for the Smith ad, but the TSPB forbid this because it would effect the newspaper’s advertising revenue. 

Smith had deliberately bought the ad space for the issue coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day, but students’ opposing the ad’s publication discovered that TSPB regulations forbade the running of “opinion” advetisements unless everyone mentioned in the copy gave consent.  Smith quoted Professor Lipstadt in the ad and the historian made clear she would not authorize publication.  The TSPB decided to violate its own rules and run the ad anyway, but when she threatened legal action, it delayed publication for a few days so the references to Lipstadt could be deleted.  Furthermore, a refutation of the ad’s assertions would be written and run alongside Smith’s submission.

Historian Deborah Lipstadt fought tirelessly to prevent a Holocaust Denial advertisement from being published by the University of Texas student newspaper The Daily Texan.  Sadly, she failed.
(Photo from http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/30/lipstadt.holocaust/art.deborah.lipstadt.courtesy.jpg).

By then, other professors quoted in the Smith ad objected to the use of their names and the TSPB decided to drop publication of the propaganda.  Nevertheless, the board in 1993 compelled publication of an advertisement for a video that claimed to prove that Nazi concentration camp gas chambers were a fraud.

Anti-Semitism and racism were enabled  by University of Texas professors other than John Murphy.  Shortly after the campus' Holocaust Denial controversy, on December 13, 1994, The Wall Street Journal published a letter signed by several University of Texas psychology professors defending major contentions made by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s neo-eugenicist book The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life  

Herrnstein and Murray, whose expertise was not in psychometrics (the supposed scientific measurement of human intelligence) argued that blacks and Latinos are, on average, 15 points lower in IQ than whites, that these differences are inborn, and that they cannot be remediated by programslike Head Statrt that aim to eliminate the ill effects of poverty, bad nutrition and other problems facing chronically poor groups. 

Setting aside the problems with defining chimeras like general intelligence and racial categories, Murray and Herrnstein later turned out to have misquoted and to have misrepresented the results of many of the studies they cited, to have used sources from long discredited eugenicists in the 1930s, and to have made major math errors in their calculations.  (For a systematic debunking of The Bell Curve can be found in Bernie W. Devlin, Stephen E. Fienberg, Daniel P. Resnick and Katherine Roeder, eds., Intelligence, Genes, & Success: Scientists Respond to the Bell Curve (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1997); Steven Fraser, ed., The Bell Curve Wars: Race, Intelligence and the Future of America (New York: basic Books, 1995); and Joe L. Kinchloe, Shirley A. Steinberg, and Aaron D. Gresson III, Measured Lies: The Bell Curve Examined (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997).

In the Wall Street Journal letter, several UT psychology professors defended every major contention in The Bell Curve. Insisting that “[i]ntelligence tests are not culturally biased against American blacks or other native-born, English-speaking peoples in the U.S.,” the letter argued that “the bell curve for whites is centered roughly around IQ 100 [or average as the letter defined it]; the bell curve for American blacks roughly around 85 [15 points below average and only 15 points above the threshold of retardation, according to the signatories]; and those for different subgroups of Hispanics roughly midway between those for whites and blacks.”  (See “Mainstream Science on Intelligence,” Wall Street Journal, December 13, 1994. )

Declaring heredity to be the primary cause of IQ differences between blacks and browns on the low end of the intelligence spectrum and Anglos and Asians on the high end, the academics  declared:

"There is no persuasive evidence that the IQ bell curves for different racial-ethnic groups are converging . . . Racial-ethnic differences in IQ bell curves are essentially the same when youngsters leave high school as when they enter first grade . . . As large national surveys continue to show, black 17-year-olds perform, on the average, more like white 13-year-olds in reading, math, and science, with Hispanics in between . . . Racial-ethnic differences are somewhat smaller but still substantial for individuals from the same socioeconomic backgrounds. To illustrate, black students from prosperous families tend to score higher in IQ than blacks from poor families, but they score no higher, on average, than whites from poor families."

The cream of the University of Texas’ psychology department numbered among the signatories  of the Wall Street Journal letter:  professors Lee Willerman, David B. Cohen, Joseph M. Horn, John C. Loehlin, and Del Theissen.  Willerman joined the American Eugenics Society in 1974. (Eugenicists seek to produce a “master race” by encouraging the supposedly genetically superior to reproduce and by discouraging reproduction by alleged inferiors. They pursued this in the 1920s through the 1940s in England, the United States and Germany through programs ranging from involuntary sterilization to actual extermination.)  

Willerman helped direct the Texas Adoption Project, which purported to demonstrate the genetic basis of intelligence and was funded in part by the eugenicist Pioneer Fund, which on its webpage describes most of its funded researchers as “race-realists [who] view race as a natural phenomenon to observe, study, and explain. They believe that human race is a valid biological concept, similar to sub-species or breeds or strains.”  A Willerman study claimed that “mixed-race children whose mothers were white had higher average IQs than mixed-race children whose mothers were black.”

Millionaire textile heir Wickliffe Draper, an admirer of Nazi Germany, established The Pioneer Fund in 1937.  Draper supported deporting American blacks to Africa, funded the legal fight against school desegregation, and dedicated his life to the cause of white “race betterment,” hoping to spur higher reproduction among the “pure” descendants of English settlers in colonial New England.  The fund has also helped finance books like Eugenics and Race by Roger Pearson, a work published by one of America’s leading Holocaust deniers, Willis Carto. Herrnstein and Murray relied on studies funded by the Pioneer Fund while writing The Bell Curve.

Several of the Texas signatories, such as David Cohen and Del Theissen, were evolutionary psychologists, influenced by one of the pre-eminent scholars on personality and intelligence, Richard Lynn, who argued that blacks were less intelligent as a group that whites.  Joseph Horn worked with Willerman and John C. Loehlin on the Texas Adoption Project.  

 (See “Mainstream Science”; Edwin Black, War Against the Weak, 288; Michael Schermer, Why People Believe Weird Things: Psuedoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time (New York : Henry Holt and Company, , 2002) and “The Groups: In the World of Academic Racism, Four Groups Play Leading Roles,” Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report,  No. 122, Summer 2006, http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2006/summer/irreconcilable-differences/the-groups.  David Cohen died after battling cancer, on January 2, 2004.  See “David B. Cohen, Ph.D., 1941-2004,” University of Texas at Austin, Department of Psychology, http://www.psy.utexas.edu/psy/FACULTY/CohenD/CohenD.html.  Accessed August 8, 2006.Willerman died of a heart attack in 1997.  See “In Memorium: Lee Willerman,” University of Texas at Austin, Department of Psychology, http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/1999-2000/memorials/Willerman/willerman.html.  Accessed August 8, 2006. The Pioneer Foundation quote comes from the group’s webpage, in the section, “Controversies: Setting the Record Straight,” http://www.pioneerfund.org/Controversies.html)

UT psychology Lee Willerman (in the top photo on the right) and Del; Theissen (in the bottom photo) devoted much of their careers as members of UT's psychology faculty to proving that black and brown people were intellectually inferior.  Willerman took funding from the Pioneer Fund, established by a wealthy American admirer of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.  (Photos from  

Former Ku Klux Klan leader, Republican officeholder and white supremacist David Duke was so excited by the joint letter on The Bell Curve  in the Wall Street Journal that he placed the entire text on his website.  (See “Racial Difference in Intelligence: What Mainstream Scientists Say,”http://www.davidduke.com/general/racial-differences-in-intelligence-what-mainstream-scientists-say_51.html, accessed February 2, 2011. )

Hitler fans and Klansman: this is the sleazy company that the best and the brightest in the UT psychology department kept in the 1990s.  No one in the department as a whole was apparently upset by white supremacist letter in the Wall Street Journal  or the crude racist sentiments of such a large percentage of the department's faculty in the late 20th century.

Daniel Boenvac -- a contemporaneous UT philosophy professor -- also believed in black and brown intellectual inferiority.  He once declared that, "[i]nequality is inevitable."  Bonevac said that no well-intentioned programs could narrow the achievement gap between black and white scholars.

". . . Despite aggressive —— and in many cases arguably illegal ——affirmative action efforts, [universities] have not succeeded in bringing large numbers of minorities into either student bodies or faculties," Bonevac wrote. "  . . . Differences in high school performance and test scores suggest that, if it were not for affirmative action programs, our elite higher education institutions would be almost completely white and Asian . . .  Groups now in positions of power are unlikely to be overwhelmed by others. If current standards of excellence remain in place, those groups [white and Asian men] will remain solidly in power for decades to come."  (See Myrna Estep, “Nazis in America,” Feminista! Vol. 3, No. 10, 2004, http://www.feminista.com/archives/v3n10/estep.html.  Accessed August 8, 2006."

Prominent academic racists abounded at UT in the 1990s.  Since 1966, Lino Graglia has taught at the same UT law school that served as William Simkins' homebase.   Graglia worked for the Eisenhower Administration Department of Justice and practiced law in Washington D.C. and New York City before receiving his UT appointment.  Graglia has a unpleasant history of disparaging African Americans.  

The long-active Republican had been considered in 1986 a finalist by the Reagan administration for a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court, but his proposed appointment fizzled as news emerged that he had urged Austin residents  to defy a court-ordered busing plan.   His practice of calling blacks students in his law classes "pickaninnies" also became widely known. (See Kathy Walt, “Professor’s words prompt irate reactions: UT officials decry anti-diversity views as state legislators call for resignation,” Houston Chronicle, 11 September 1997.)  

Tenured UT law professor Lino Graglia, hired in 1966, liked to call his black students "pickanninies" and said in 1997 that black and brown students can't compete with whites academically.  When students and activists protested and called for his dismissal, many faculty members only worried about threats to the school's tenure system. (Photo from http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/headshots/graglia_lino_lg.jpg).

On September 10, 1997, Graglia, declared at a press conference announcing the establishment of a student group opposed to Affirmative Action that ``Blacks and Mexican-Americans are not academically competitive with whites in selective institutions. It is the result primarily of cultural effects. They have a culture that seems not to encourage achievement. Failure is not looked upon with disgrace.” (See Mary Ann Roser, “UT student group praises anti-affirmative action law,” Austin American Statesman, 11 September 1997; Mary Ann Roser and Cara Tanamachi, “Jackson urges UT to Fight Racism,” Austin American Statesman, 17 September 1997; Ann Sjoerdsma, “Education: Gaps in Tolerance of Views on Race Also Thwart Learning — Lino Graglia's Logic Fails - and Becomes Bias - When He Makes Broad Assumptions of Class Based Only on Race,” The Virginian Pilot, 29 September 1997.)

During his September 10 press conference, Graglia poured contempt of black and brown people on top of ridicule, claiming that minority students who couldn’t compete in real academic classes  “insist that the game be changed.  Let’s study something else. Let’s have black studies instead of chemistry.”'  The following day, in an interview with the Austin American Statesman, Graglia said he had urged parents in Austin to resist a busing order because “``I don't know that it's good for whites to be with the lower classes ... (because) ... they perform less well in school. They tend towards greater violent behavior.'' (See Mary Ann Roser, “UT opts against punishing Graglia: Officials release decision while students are away,” Austin American-Statesman, 20 December 1997.)

Graglia’s comments inspired a furious response from affirmative action supporters.  "It seems that we're in an era where the Ku Klux Klan does not come in white robes but in the robes of academe," said state Sen. Gregory Luna, a San Antonio Democrat who chaired the Senate Hispanic Caucus. Meanwhile, State Rep. Ron Wilson called for the law professor's resignation, noting that when he attended UT law school, he became aware of Graglia’s racism and that he and other African American students “avoided him like the plague.” In addition to Wilson, state Rep. Hugo Berlanga of Corpus Christi, head of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, called for the tenured professor’s immediate departure.  Three UT students filed charges of racial harassment against Graglia.  

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson addressed a rally attended by 5,000 on September 16, 1997, urging his audience to take a different approach.  ``Don't ever make him into a legal martyr,'' Jackson told an enthusiastic audience. ``Make him a moral, social pariah.''  He then urged students to boycott Graglia’s classes.  After Jackson’s speech, students staged a six-hour sit-in at the law school, demanding to speak to the UT Board of Regents.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I participated in the sit-in.) The demonstration ended when Regent Lowell Lebermann met with the students, told them the board supported the students’ actions, and promised that a committee of regents would meet with the students and that a report would be presented at the board’s Nov. 13 meeting.   (See Mary Ann Roser and Cara Tanamachi, “Jackson urges UT to Fight Racism,” Austin American Statesman, 17 September 1997.)

The University of Texas then not-so-bravely announced during the winter holiday, when most students were out of sight and out of mind, that it would not discipline the professor in response to student complaints.  The UT system’s chief attorney Ray Farabee, suggested that the school’s racial harassment policy might be ruled unconstitutional as an infringement of First Amendment rights. Farabee did not address the issue of whether Graglia’s perceptions of African American and Latino culture hampered his ability to fairly evaluate black and brown students.  Graglia, meanwhile, remained unfazed by the tempest he created, declaring in a forum two years later that ``If (African Americans and Hispanics) were competitive, there wouldn't be preferences.”  (See
(See Mary Ann Roser, “UT opts against punishing Graglia: Officials release decision while students are away,” Austin American-Statesman, 20 December 1997; Tara A. Trower, “UT law professor stands by beliefs on Hopwood decision,” Austin American-Statesman, 11 September 1999.)

Some faculty members protested Graglia's continued presence and publicly condemned his remarks.  None, it seemed, were aware of or disapproved of the active racism embraced by a large percentage of the school's psychology department.  In any case, the faculty did not do nearly enough.  It would have been refreshing if more tenured faculty member at UT  had actually considered that a professor's most important obligation is to the students and that a racist professor is by definition unable to perform his or her duties.Such a professor cannot fairly evaluate the work of black or brown students or other individuals already assumed to be intellectually inferior.

Racism is intrinsically a violation of academic ethics.  Racist professors - those who argue that certain ill-defined large categories of humans are intrinsically deficient intellectually or biologically - have no place at any college or university and should be fired.  Such a stance is entirely consistent with academic freedom and the concept of tenure because the research of a person with such strong biases and the student evaluations made by a racist will always be suspect.

With so many white supremacists on the faculty, it's not wonder that UT produced so many ill-behaved, bigoted students in the last 20 years.  Student racists at the school continue to congregate on Greek Row and now seem to congregate with the school's Young Republican Club.

 On January 31, 2002, the Kappa Alpha fraternity hosted a "Gin and Juice" ghetto-themed party in which one guest wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a   large watermelon.  On October 31 the same year, the Phi Gamma Delta frat held a Halloween party in which attendees included a white man wearing black face and an "Afro" wig and a chain with a lock (presumably "humorously" referencing slavery.  Fore more, see http://www.tspnsports.com/forums/showthread.php?16049-Costumes-at-frat-parties-drawing-complaints-at-UT&s=e92e8be39f316563bf66adbc2a00cf58 and 
http://www.stophate.org/text/RevisedSTHGuide.01.03.06%201.pdf).  In January 2003, a brand new statute honoring civil rights crusader Martin Luther King, Jr.  got covered with raw eggs by someone on the MLK holiday. (See http://www.erinoconnor.org/archives/2003/01/egging_on_racis.html). 

In 2006, UT law students, mimicking the primitive attitudes of such fine law professors as Simkins and Graglia, held a so-called "Ghetto Fabulous" party.  The "“partygoers carried 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor and wore Afro wigs, necklaces with large medallions and name tags bearing traditionally black and Hispanic names.”  Chased away by high tuition and the hostile attitudes of faculty members like Graglia, only 70 African Americans could be counted as students at the UT law school out of about 1,300 by at the time of the party .  (See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15248533/#.T3NMW8mF9tI and http://blackfolk.livejournal.com/4162483.html?style=mine and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15248533/#.T3NMW8mF9tI). 

White students at a so-called "ghetto fabulous" party.  Such minstrelsy events have become common place at UT fraternities in the past decade. (Photo frohttp://wiggerlover.blogs.com/index/2006/10/ima_teach_this_.html).  

On March 2007,  someone distributed flyers purportedly from the now infamously racist Phi Gamma Delta fraternity that listed supposed "pledge rules" that included the phrases "No Mexicans," "NO FAGETRY." (Frat boys, apparently are not only dumb and intolerant, they can't spell either.)  The fraternity, involved in several racial incidents in the past, denied having printed the flyers.  In October the same year, another fraternity announced plans to hold a "“Cholo/Ghetto Mexican Party”    (See http://austinist.com/2007/07/18/ut_frat_kicks_a.php  and http://xicanopwr.com/2007/10/texas-fraternity-to-throw-racist-theme-event/.) 

In November 2008, a backup center for the Texas Longhorns, Buck Burnette, responded to the news that Barack Obama had become the first African American to ever be elected president, by posting on Fracebook  “All the hunters gather up, we have a N$%&er in the White House.”  Unlike faculty members at the campus, the student faced a serious consequence for his racist idiocy.  He got kicked off the football team.  (See http://newsone.com/nation/thabiti-lewis/lewis-university-of-texas-fumbles-on-racism/).

Former University of Texas backup center Buck Burnette would not be the first right-winger to publicly call for President Obama's death or to refer to him by the N-word.  (Photo from http://news.lalate.com/2008/11/06/buck-burnette-facebook/).

In late 2011, in quick order two presidents of the University of Texas College Republicans chapter suffered national embarrassment after one posted about how nice it would supposedly be to assassinate President Obama and when her successor made the racist suggestion that the Commander-in-Chief was on crack.   First, Lauren Pierce tweeted the following message:

"I know it may be tempting,  but don't shoot President Obama.  We need him to go down as the worst president in history."

Sorry, Lauren, but George W. Bush has a lock on the "worst president" title for the foreseeable future.   Unlike Graglia, when Pierce faced sufficient outcry, she at least did the honorable thing and resigned.   Then Cassandra Wright got elected as her replacement and celebrated by tweeting this:

"My president is black, he snorts a lot of crack.  Holla!"

The bad attempt at a rap lyric was apparently inspired by a song called "My President is Black" performed by a hip-hop artist called Young Jeezy.  An Austin Republican tried to pass this tweet off as a "simple mistake."  As a writer for The Daily Kos puts it:

“Leaving the water running in the sink or leaving your door unlocked is a "simple mistake". Making a racist slur about the President... ummm no. That is not a simple mistake. That is straight up bigotry. And then to double down with "Well, it could have been a careless remark"... Sure, because we all just make highly inflammatory racist comments offhand. (/snark)”

Wright's remarks are not a simple mistake, but part of a pattern that started on the campus from its very origins.  Are all students at the University of Texas racist?  Certainly not.  Are all faculty members?  Not by a long shot.  But the university for most of its history actively encouraged racism. 

After desegregation, it chose to not respond to a law professor who used racial slurs in class against his students.  It ignored unethical psychology professors who accepted research funds from a pro-Nazi organization and belonged to a group that essentially advocated the biological elimination of the supposedly racially unfit.   Until the 1990s, administrators consistently ignored the date rape, gay bashing and anti-black hate regularly spewing from the mental midgets on Greek Row.  The school's landscape honored slavery and waxed nostalgic about the Confederacy and a dormitory long bore the name of a domestic terrorist.  From its beginnings, "The University" has enabled negrophobia and xenophobia.  Don't blame cartoonist Stephanie Eisner for calling Trayvon Martin a "colored boy" in a recent issue of the Daily Texan.  She's just a product of her environment.

UPDATE (6-25-12): 

So far, about 1,500 people have read this essay around the world at this site and my Red State Blues blog.  Some people people have posted responses suggesting that I should post an equally long essay noting UT's efforts to promote diversity.  Frankly, I find that absurd. Institutions should not be congratulated for doing what should be expected of them.  

Given UT's long history of segregation and the role of students and at least one law professor in trying to undo Affirmative Action, the university had a moral obligation to reach out to the African American and Mexican American community.  Congratulating UT Austin for its attempts to diversify its student body is somewhat akin to congratulating Penn State, post-Jerry Sandusky, for no longer concealing the sex crimes of its faculty.  And the UT student body is still overwhelmingly white, largely a result of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican-dominated legislature's insistence on slashing state support for public colleges and universities, a policy which has again made higher education against a preserve of affluent white people.  Texans of all races, ethnicities and economic classes will soon pay a heavy price for this penny-wise, pound moronic approach to education.

One more note.  Lest anyone think that members of the UT faculty have only taken funding from racist hate groups like the eugenicist Pioneer Fund, at least one of UT's scholars has devoted himself to anti-gay causes.  Right-wing, homophobic organizations  like the Witherspoon Institute have bankrolled the sloppy research of sociology professor Mark Regnerus that purports to show that children raised by gay parents suffer harm leading to unemployment and other difficulties in later life.  Regnerus admits that the methodology of his study on the effect of gay parenting -- which uses vague definitions of who is "gay" and which defines economic success in life with no reference to the sorry state of the American economy in the past decade or the economic conditions of the families examined -- does not work "to the long-term benefit of science."  His work also contradicts a mountain of other studies that suggest that the children of gay parents thrive and may even do better that the children of gay parents.  The Witherspoon Institute, by the way, has extensive ties to National Organization for Marriage, which has been classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, as an "anti-gay group."  Regnerus' work on gay marriage is below the expected standard of the sociology discipline.  Again, the issue here is not academic freedom.  It's academic competence.  (For more, see http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/open-letter-to-university-of-texas-regarding-professor-mark-regneruss-alleged-unethical-anti-gay-study/civil-rights/2012/06/24/41977 and http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-s-anti-gay-hate-list-compiled-with-diligence-and-clear-standards and http://www.livescience.com/17913-advantages-gay-parents.html).  

Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate this article. I assume that the students' racist outbursts are products of the pervasive social climate that fosters them. My era--The University in the late 1960s-- seemed somewhat contradictory: the idealism of an awakening progress conscience in campus protests yet a fraternity/sorority system strongly segregated along faith and color lines. At least we didn't have guns on campus. I'm saddened at these indications that my alma mater mainly moving toward more ignorance and intolerance. Science and history and philosophy seem absent. I wonder what is being is being taught there.

Anonymous said...

I anxiously await the follow up blog post about the things The University has done to increase and pursue diversity on campus. I know it will have to be about 15 times longer than this piece, so I assume that is why it is not published yet. Are you still waiting for the pictures of the MLK statue to get processed?

Isabelle M. Farmer said...

I am sure there isn't a single Democratic racist on the entire UT campus. Good gosh, you might think ALL Republicans are racists the way you write about it. And, they might be bigots, but President Obama will likely turn out to be one of the most abysmal Presidents ever. Not because he is black, but because he has allowed his ideology to spend money we don't have, the consequences of which may be terrible indeed.

Anonymous said...

Your ability to spin otherwise arbitrary facts into absurd "support" for your argument is as impressive as it is damning. I'll cite for example your description of George Washington, as not the hero of the war for American independence but as he is of course more commonly known, the southern slave owner. For shame.

Anonymous said...

This is absurd. I find a beautiful if not slightly disconcerting irony in the fact that an article which is littered with accusations of racism is framed in such a stereotypical, slighted, and incorrect view of the south, Republicans, and the University of Texas as an institution. If you're seriously interested in finding an entity that is guilty of modern-day bigotry, you should perhaps consult this article: http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=25972909&postID=8561842273647119404

Anonymous said...

You've misquoted Woodrow Wilson. He said:

"It's like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all TERRIBLY true."



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Anonymous said...

I happened upon this article after visiting the UT Austin campus. The beautiful scenery pock-marked with statues that, collectively, scream white supremacy. It was depressing.
I was surprised, as well, to find that others were not outraged by the oppressive monuments surrounding the University and the Capitol. Most people agreed that the monuments were racist, but didn't seem bothered by it. On the contrary, they seemed surprised by my reaction to the monuments.
It is good to know that there are people who do notice these things and care enough to write about it.
I left Austin in 2016. I've since heard that four statues were taken down in the night after the race riots in Virginia. That backlash that followed was hardly surprising, but it made me sad all the same.
I hope Austin does change, even if it does feel like a very slow crawl. There is much to love about Austin, but the mix of blatant racism and the more prevalent indifference to racism overshadowed my experience of the town. It was the people that made Austin hard to leave. At the same time, the people need to start addressing the issues staring them in the face.

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