Download a free audiobook to listen UT’s stories of integration told by staff, alumni and members of the Precursors
By Jessica Sinn
The DDCE is pleased to announce the online publication of “Overcoming,” a free audiobook about the history of the Black experience at The University of Texas at Austin. Produced by Jason Molin, DDCE executive director of communications, the book complements Vidal Marsh’s forthcoming documentary “Still Overcoming,”which chronicles the story of UT’s integration and pays tribute to his aunt Almetris Duren.
Almetris Duren (lovingly known as “Mama Duren”) is an iconic figure in UT history who made a profound impact on her students during her time as housemother, mentor and advisor. The multiple narrators—members of the Precursors, staff and alumni—pay homage to Duren’s legacy and share stories about others who have faced many hardships, struggles and triumphs during UT’s early years of intergration.
Opening with the watershed Supreme Court case Sweatt vs. Painter, the five chapters cover various points in UT’s historic timeline, including segregated housing and extracurricular activities, the emergence of Black power and protests, and early advancements in Black recruitment and retention.
The integration of The University of Texas at Austin since the 1940s is outlined, with the process reviewed from legal, social and personal perspectives. The first chapter is devoted to the breaking down of legal barriers, beginning with the test case of Heman Sweatt in 1946 and culminating with University President Logan Wilson’s policy statement that the university would open its doors to Black graduate and professional students only when such work was not available in Black schools in the state.
The second chapter details problems in the early years of integration: housing, extracurricular activities and the community’s response. Chapter three focuses on the emergence of Black awareness and Black power: intramural and extramural athletic participation, student group solidarity and militancy on campus.
The fourth chapter is devoted to ethnic programs and protests, and the fifth looks at the process of increasing the percentage of Blacks on campus in the 1970s. The university’s changing image is discussed in the last chapter, focusing on athletics, affirmative action and recruitment efforts, faculty and academics and extracurricular activities.
The book is free and publicly accessible. Donations to the Almetris Marsh Duren Memorial Challenge Grant Scholarship are strongly encouraged.
This article was originally published in DDCE on February 2, 2023.