Tsu History

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In August 1959, two white police officers pulled over a 1952 Dodge driven by a black 27 year-old law student named Eldreway Stearns. Stearns was asked to show take out his wallet and show his id but he had only an out of state student id card. He got into far more trouble because in his wallet he had a white girl’s picture in there. He was put in the back of the police car and taken to jail and charged with lacking a valid driver license. His arrest ultimately would propel him into the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement. Between 1960 and 1963 protesters would attack segregation at bus counters, railroads, hotels, theaters, and restaurants. In Houston, blacks were not only denied admission in white public schools, colleges, and universities they also couldn’t eat at white restaurants, sit at white lunch counters, watch movies at the orchestra of white theaters, or sleep in white hotels. This system was known as Jim Crow. Attorney, George Washington Jr. couldn’t even go to the courthouse with the Jim Crow laws being in effect. In 1959, Houston acquired a major league baseball franchise, built the world’s first dome stadium, and became home of the national spacecraft program. In the south, Eldreway Stearns boldly stepped before the City Council to protest his arrest by the police. Louie Welch, a young ambitious city councilman, pressed for an official investigation of Stearns charges. At the time, Stearns was a first-year law student at Texas Southern University also known as TSU, which was established as the Texas State University for Negroes by the Texas Legislature in 1947. Quentin Mease, the executive director of the YMCA, became Stearns boss and also his Civil Rights mentor. A meeting was organized to have sit-ins in white places and Stearns was asked to come to the meeting and become the leader of the movement. The tactic that the TSU students chose was simple, they sat at lunch counters and waited to be served. The stores refused to serve them, and the...
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