University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights

The Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights is an annual event organized by students, faculty and staff at The University of Texas at Austin. The symposium is named after Heman Marion Sweatt, the first African American admitted into the UT School of Law after the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Sweatt v. Painter in 1950.

This is the 26th anniversary of the Heman Sweatt Symposium on The University of Texas at Austin campus. The topic this year is Awareness to Action: Advancing Solutions for Men of Color in Higher Education. Please join us to celebrate and honor the historical legacy of Heman Marion Sweatt and discuss contemporary social issues.

Awareness to Action:
Advancing Solutions for Men of Color in Higher Education

Early in 2010, the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center issued The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color (PDF), a report connecting the disparate educational outcomes of young men with sobering statistics about unemployment, poverty, and incarceration. In short, it revealed the lack of success that males of color are experiencing as they navigate the education system in the United States. (Read the report summary PDF here.)

Many minority males are trapped in a cycle of low expectations and poor academic achievement. Currently, just 26 percent of African Americans, 24 percent of Native Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 18 percent of Hispanic Americans have at least an associate degree. Additionally, in each group, young women outperform young men in the attainment of high school and college degrees. Finishing high school is the exception to the general rule for men in some communities, while prison is as likely a short-run destination as college or work.

Statistics alone do not begin to capture the severity of the situation. Within a generation, the U.S. will be a much more diverse nation, and, if current trends hold, we’ll see a pronounced decline in the educational attainment of the country as a whole. In order to regain the nation’s international position as a leader in education, we must find the will and the way to erase disparities so that low-income students and historically underrepresented groups have the ability to complete degrees.

The educational achievement of men of color demands significant dialogue. Through a series of symposium events, this year’s Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights, Awareness to Action: Advancing Solutions for Men of Color in Higher Education, will provide a forum to discuss and identify what we know and don’t know about the educational experiences of African American, Asian American, Latino American and Native American young men. The symposium will bring together leading scholars, program staff and community activists to discuss research, policy and best practices.

Through the symposium, we seek not only to encourage honest discussion of the crisis, but to inspire action that supports men of color as they reach their full potential through a positive educational experience and make meaningful contributions to their families, communities and society.