What Starts Here Changes the World

July 11, 2014

As We Saw It Project Helps UT Reflect on the Civil Rights Act of 1964


One week ago today, many of us scoured our closets for the perfect red, white and blue ensemble so that we might properly celebrate America’s 238th birthday, but there was another momentous occasion last week, that may not have mandated the same style consideration, but deserved the same level of recognition. On July 2 we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 being signed into law by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. Both of these days are significant to the
forming of our nation’s consciousness and historical understanding of our social values and democratic principles, but more significantly, they provide opportunity for us to reflect on how our personal and communal stories are consequences of historical moments.

As the United States struggled with reconciling social practices through policy in the early 20th Century, The University of Texas at Austin (UT) was challenging similar concepts of equity through the paradigm of education. UT’s decision to integrate its campus in 1950 is a part of that national narrative and being documented and shared today through the As We Saw It project at a pivotal time for social change both on campus and nation wide.

Part of the role of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement is to assist The University of Texas community in observing and understanding our own stories in the context of such pivotal historical moments. And so today we carry on in our efforts to observe, document and share the ongoing dividends of the 1964 signing of the Civil Rights Act through the As We Saw It project. By continuing the work of this legislation’s legacy DDCE hopes to continue to unearth important narratives that speak to the power of progress, race reconciliation and the platform of education.

Join us today and for the rest of the month of July as we share more stories of UT’s first African American students and their trying and yet unwavering experiences integrating southern higher education and challenging access to the Ivory Tower. Find new stories here each month.


– Virginia A. Cumberbatch



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