This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act, signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson on July 2, 1964, prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal.

Texans were an integral part of the act, and the legislation continues to influence Texas law and lawyers. The May 12 issue of Texas Lawyer is devoted to remembering the lawyers, images and issues that were part of this landmark piece of legislation.

Read on for our complete commemorative coverage, including video from the Civil Rights Summit, held in Austin this past April; an interview with Larry E. Temple, president of the LBJ Foundation; a timeline of significant Texas Civil Rights cases and relevant legislation; and a compilation of iconic images.

I hope you enjoy this special issue on reflection and remembrance as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Best regards,

Heather D. Nevitt, Esq.


Prying Open Denison’s Schoolhouse Doors: Inside the Courtroom for the Desegregation Fight

In his concluding remarks, plaintiffs lawyer Weldon H. Berry told U.S. District Judge Joe W. Sheehy that “the fact that the board waited nine years” after Brown to start to integrate Denison schools “is a mockery of justice. I cannot see how a person in good conscience could say the board needed nine years to study this problem.” Read More

When the Whites-Only Sign Came Down at Big Law

Jim Plummer notes that many African-American lawyers in Houston at the time, including his father, the late Matthew Plummer Sr., were members of the Houston Lawyers Association, which was formed in 1955 because they could not join the Houston Bar Association. Read More

New Lawyer’s Caseload in 1966: Private Clubs, Separate Schools

“I don’t think we’ve had a total success. When you read a story about Donald Sterling on the West Coast, you know there is latent bigotry and racism in our country,” Marvin Nathan said in reference to a recording of remarks allegedly made by the Los Angeles Clippers owner. Read More

An Insider’s Look at the LBJ White House: Civil Rights to Vietnam

Texas Gov. “John Connally didn’t think all of the provisions of that law should pass. But once it was passed he said, ‘It’s the law of the land, and it’s going to be enforced in this state,’” said Larry Temple. Read More

Present at the Creation: The Rise of the EEOC and Employment Law

“I’ll give credit to lots of lawyers for the employer community who spoke to their clients and said, ‘No, you can’t do this anymore. … You have to change,’” explained John Schmelzer, a 38-year veteran of the EEOC. Read More

The Content of his Character: 1949 Law Grad Helped Change Texas

L. Clifford Davis survived a segregated courthouse, talked strategy with Thurgood Marshall and still works five days a week. Read More


What Is It Like to Practice as an African-American Attorney in 2014?

W J. Durham was a dapper gentleman, scholarly and polite, who began his practice in Sherman 1926 and later practiced in Dallas in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. At one point, his law office was burned to the ground. Read More

Texas Needs More Civil Rights Lawyers

Lawyers threatened for working on civil rights cases? It’s not 1964; it’s 2014. Read More

An Employer’s Lawyer Looks Back

Ask a lawyer of a certain vintage and you’ll hear at least one story about some at a deposition confusing a female lawyer with the court reporter. Read More

An Answer to Prayer: Securing Religious Rights at the Supreme Court

Importantly, Kennedy’s opinion repudiated dictum from the Supreme Court’s opinion in County of Allegheny v. ACLU (1989), which suggested “that legislative prayer must be generic or nonsectarian.” Read More


Video: Civil Rights Act Changed Legal Profession, Inside and Out

As the 50th Anniversary of the nation’s sweeping civil rights legislation nears, Texas Lawyer in April asked attorneys at the Civil Rights Summit in Austin how the law had touched the legal profession. See Video

Video: An Insider’s Look at the LBJ White House

Texas attorney Larry Temple was inside the White House, serving as LBJ’s special counsel from 1967 until 1969. He sat down with Texas Lawyer senior reporter John Council to discuss how the Civil Rights Act came to pass and how the administration managed to implement an aggressive social justice agenda while fighting a costly and controversial war. See Video


This timeline provides a partial snapshot of civil rights cases and legislation over the course of the last 200 years. See Timeline


Iconic images in Texas from the days of the Civil Rights movement. See Slideshow