Texas Southern University was established in 1947 under Texas State Senate Bill 140, which granted the University the authority to offer courses of higher learning in pharmacy, dentistry, journalism, education, arts and sciences, literature, law, medicine, and other professional courses. The University, established by the Fiftieth Texas Legislature, was originally known as "Texas State University for Negroes." However, the name was changed by the legislature in 1951 to Texas Southern University.
About Texas Southern University and Thurgood Marshall School of Law
The Thurgood Marshall School of Law, as well as the University at-large, was undoubtedly created as a consequence of a 1946 lawsuit brought by Heman M. Sweatt. Under the Texas Constitution, which required separate but equal treatment, Mr. Sweatt was refused admission to the University of Texas School of Law because he was black. As a result, the legislature provided for an interim and separate law school for Negroes. During its first academic year, the law school was housed in Austin, Texas, and was subsequently transferred to the new university campus in Houston.
It is appropriate to note that Justice Marshall, chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, successfully argued Heman M. Sweatt's case before the United States Supreme Court.
The Houston African American community was divided on the question of whether to support the establishment of the new "Jim Crow" institution or fight for integration of the University of Texas. Some believed that equalization of African American educational opportunity could be achieved at the new "Jim Crow" institution. However, the NAACP took the position that the educational equality of Texas' African Americans could only be achieved by integration, which left no place for the establishment of the "Jim Crow" Texas Southern University. Thus, the Law School began without the important support of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP.
Since its move to Houston, the School of Law has become an integral part of the Texas Southern University campus. Prior to 1976, the law school was housed in Hannah Hall - the University's administrative complex. On February 14, 1976, the school was formally named The Thurgood Marshall School of Law in honor of the distinguished former U.S. Supreme Court Justice and was moved to its present location.
The Law School has been greatly enriched by the contributions of its culturally diverse students and faculty. Moreover, Thurgood Marshall School of Law is proud that it has produced numerous attorneys and judges of all ethnicities - thereby, significantly impacting the diversity of our nation's legal representatives.
From the beginning, the Texas Southern University School of Law began the important task of providing equal legal educational opportunity to underserved citizens of the State of Texas. One of the first contributions of the Law School was the development of a new cadre of leaders in the African American community. The Law School's graduates have served in Congress, the state legislature, and judiciary, and throughout the legal community in Texas and beyond. Beginning in the 1970's, the Law School expanded its mission beyond the African American community of Texas. Each year the Law School ranks in the top five (5) in the nation in the number of African American law graduates. In addition, it ranks in the top twenty-five (25) in the number of Mexican American graduates.