Today in history, the Supreme Court of the United States issued three important decisions that undermined the legal foundations of segregation, Mexican general Pancho Villa was born, and Compton Mayor Doris Davis became the first African American woman to be mayor of a major city.
Transcript of this day in history included below.
This is Marc Steiner, and today is June the 5th. Welcome to This Day In History.
(Mel Tormé – The Christmas Song – Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
That’s “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” by the jazz singer and songwriter Mel Tormé, who died today in 1999. That song has been recorded more than 1,700 times.
And the Supreme Court of the United States issued three important decisions today in 1950 that undermined the legal foundations of segregation.
In the case of Sweatt v. Painter, which was decided today, the court heard the case of a black student Herman Marion Sweatt, who applied to the University of Texas Law School. Because the university was only open to whites, his application was immediately rejected. Herman Sweatt asked for court-ordered admission to the university, while the University of Texas offered to provide a separate “but equal” facility for black law students called the law school for Negroes. Ultimately, the Supreme Court found that this policy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution because that separate institution was grossly unequal in almost every area, from the faculty to the courses offered to the library and prestige.
And another case decided today in 1950 by the Supreme Court was McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents. In that case, another black student named George McLaurin, who already had his Masters in Education, had been denied admission to the University of Oklahoma to pursue his doctorate degree. George McLaurin made a successful case before the US District Court citing the 14th Amendment. Despite the district court ruling that the separate facilities provided for McLaurin were inadequate — they gave him his own table in the cafeteria, a designated desk in the library and a desk outside the classroom since he was not permitted to be educated with white students — the Court did not force the university to comply but rather gave them the benefit of the doubt that they would rectify the situation, and they did not. McLaurin appealed to the Supreme Court, which ultimately decided that it was against the 14th Amendment for an institution of higher learning to provide different treatment to a student because of their race.
These two cases together marked the end of the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson when it came to higher education.
And finally, in Henderson v. United States, decided today also in 1950, the Supreme Court ruled against segregation in railroad dining cars. While the court wouldn’t rule on the separate but equal doctrine as it applied in this case, but they did eliminate the practice of reserved tables and curtains for black train passengers.
And it was reported today in 1981 that five people in Los Angeles, California had a rare and mysterious form of pneumonia normally seen in patients with very weak immune systems. This information, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, was later understood as the first recognized cases of AIDS.
And we remember a few special happenings today in history:
It’s the birthday of Olympic track and field star John Carlos, who was born today in New York City in 1945. He would go on to raise his black-gloved fist during the National Anthem at the 1968 Olympic Summer Games.
It’s also the birthday of Mexican general Pancho Villa, born today in 1878.
And two very influential economic thinkers share a birthday: Scottish economist Adam Smith, born today in 1723, who wrote the Wealth of Nations, the basis of capitalist theory, and English economist John Maynard Keynes, born in 1883, who changed our understanding of supply and demand in the short term.
And today in 1973, Doris A. Davis became the first African American woman to be mayor of a major city when she was elected mayor of Compton, California.
Here’s a song for your May 19th. Today is the birthday of Freddie Stone, co-founder and guitarist of Sly and the Family Stone. He was born today in 1946 in Vallejo, California. And here’s Sly and the Family Stone’s song “Stand!”
(Stand! – Sly and the Family Stone)
To continue your exploration of this day in history, take a look at some of our favorite sources: Charles H. Wright Museum: Today in Black History; African American Registry; BlackPast; NYTimes on this Day; EyewitnessToHistory.com; The Civil War Trust; Voices in Labor: Today in Labor History; Union Communication Services at The Worker Institute: Today in Labor History; BBC On This Day; The Holocaust History Project; PBS African American World; PBS; Today in Women’s History; South African History Online; This Day In North American Indian History; Jewish Virtual Library; The People History; Wikipedia List of Historical Anniversaries; Yenoba; and This Day in Music