Held October 18, 2022 — watch event video here:

Heman Sweatt, his Lawsuit, and the Civil Rights Movement in Texas

Michael Gillette, PhD

Drawing on original interviews and oral histories, this talk looked at the ways in which Heman Marion Sweatt, a Houston mailman, and Texas’ Black leaders desegregated The University of Texas School of Law and created the vital precedent for the US Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Dr. Michael L. Gillette received his bachelor’s degree and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. While in graduate school, he began working at the LBJ Presidential Library, ultimately serving as Director of Oral History and Acquisitions. He resigned from the Library in 1991 to become the Director of the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives, with responsibility for the historical records of the US Senate and House of Representatives. Dr. Gillette retired from the National Archives in 2003, and returned to Austin to accept the position of Executive Director of Humanities Texas. He and his wife, LeAnn Lakin Gillette, a Director of Development of The University of Texas at Austin, both retired in 2019. Gillette serves on the Board of Distinguished Visitors of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University, having been associated with the institution since its creation. His previous affiliations include the board of directors of the Congressional Education Foundation and the board of directors of the Everett Dirksen Congressional Leadership Center. Gillette is the author of two books published by Oxford University Press: Launching the War on Poverty: An Oral History and Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History.  He is a recipient of the UT College of Liberal Arts’ Pro Bene Meritis Award.


CCI’s Campus Contextualization Seminar series explores histories of race, gender, and power at The University of Texas at Austin. Speakers present research and new frameworks for analysis concerning the ways in which US universities continue to address these issues.