Texas Insights - March 2013

Volume III, Issue 4

What’s New?

Educating the public about Texas’s unique history is a primary mission of the San Jacinto Museum of History. The Museum has released its in-depth Curriculum Guide for Teaching Texas History to accomplish this goal. Written by educational consultant Yvonne Jackson Pittman, with contributions from San Jacinto Museum Curator Elizabeth Appleby and Library Director Lisa Struthers, the 400 page guide provides 90 complete lessons and over 40 student activities; more than 500 related images in the associated online Image Gallery; and many special sections that go beyond the TEKS requirements with activities and enrichment materials that highlight some of the museum’s diverse collections including chapters on Jesse Jones, the building of the San Jacinto Monument and the Texas Navy. 

The online image gallery is sure to be popular with students of any age or expertise. It contains images of photos, documents, newspaper articles, artifacts and document transcriptions. Although the images were selected to correspond with lesson plans, it will also be an excellent resource for genealogists, the general public, publishers and journalists to identify media that they need for their work and interests. Plans are in place to expand the image gallery for broader use. 

The lesson plans in the Curriculum guide have been correlated with the 7th grade Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and includes a number of useful and necessary features important to the teaching of Texas history. Lesson Plans are identified with both a subject title and the associated TEKS number. Archival documents, from the image gallery, are linked to appropriate lessons. An essential question is provided to help guide instruction for every lesson. Critical vocabulary words are highlighted, which are vital to in-depth understanding. The “Hook” question or strategy is used to pique interest and prepare for new learning. Activities are designed as cooperative learning or independent practice and are used to process new ideas. The “Be a Star Bonus” feature is for students who need enrichment or additional challenges. The strategy descriptions and graphic organizers section is available with printable research-based strategies and reoccurring lesson ideas. 

The San Jacinto Museum of History Association is a non-profit organization which owns all the artifacts, library and museum items and manages/operates all aspects of the San Jacinto Museum, which is housed in the San Jacinto Monument on the grounds of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in La Porte, Texas. Attractions and events coordinated by the Museum include both the San Jacinto Symposium and the San Jacinto Festival and Battle Reenactment, which are featured in the Texas history news section of Texas Insights. To view the Curriculum Guide, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Film on Spanish Texas

Houston Arts and Media is proud to announce the release of Spanish Texas, part one of an eight part series of location based videos, The Birth of Texas Series. Spanish Texas is the story of the missions, presidios and villas in this most remote part of New Spain. The settlers in this often hostile outpost would become known as Tejanos, and they would alternately battle and cooperate with the Anglos arriving in Texas from the east. There are filibusters and pirates, vast Texas ranchos, battles for survival and revolution against Royal Spain. The film will air on Houston’s KUHT-TV Channel 8 in prime time on Tuesday, March 19th, with an encore showing at 10 PM on March 26th and March 27th. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


UNT Texas History Symposium

Join the University of North Texas’s Department of History for their annual Texas History Symposium. This event will be held on April 20, 2013 on the University of North Texas campus. This year’s topic will be “50 Years since the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.” Guest speakers include Dr. James Giglio, Professor Emeritus of History at Southwest Missouri State University and author of “The Presidency of John F. Kennedy,” and Mr. James Leavelle, the former Dallas Texas homicide detective who escorted Lee Harvey Oswald out of the Dallas Police Headquarters when Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. Registration is required for all participants which includes a BBQ lunch. Visit TeachingTexas.org for additional information.

Featured Institution

By: Pat Epstein
PEI Education Liaison

“.…the development of monotheism, Judaism...Judeo-Christian legal tradition…the Jewish Ten Commandments... development of rule of law from ancient to modern time…Mosaic Law…Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah....”

The social studies standards implemented in 2011-2012 included increased emphasis on religion, many directly referencing Judaism and its contributions to world religions and Western civilization’s culture, law, and values. The phrases above, pulled directly from the TEKS, are but a few examples.

While the standards took effect in 2011, textbooks aligned with the standards will not be available until 2015, meaning that Texas educators must develop interesting, challenging–and accurate–TEKS-aligned curriculum and lesson plans from scratch. Teaching “about” religion is always challenging, but even more so when one is not fluent in the tenets of a particular faith, particularly a minority yet foundational religion like Judaism. The real challenge is locating accurate, pedagogically sound, and unbiased resources in our digital, Wikipedia-driven age.

That is where PEI comes in. Founded in 2009 as a joint project of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Dallas (JCRCs exist in most major U.S. cities and serve as the central umbrella agency for all the Jewish organizations, agencies and religious institutions in an area. The goals of the JCRC are informed by Jewish values and pursued in a non-partisan manner) and the Institute for Curriculum Services: National Resource Center for Accurate Jewish Content in Schools (ICS is a national project of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the San Francisco JCRC. ICS was launched in 2005 to promote accurate instructional materials about Jews, Judaism, and Israel nationwide. Through JCPA’s network of 125 JCRCs and 14 national agencies, ICS partners with Jewish communities nationally to review education standards, policies, and materials and to interact with publishers. ICS works with policymakers, education officials, educators, and publishers to achieve their respective goals), PEI centered its objectives on content accuracy in TEKS that reference Jews, Judaism, and Israel and worked successfully with writing teams and the State Board of Education during the adoption process to this end.

PEI’s demonstrated commitment to content accuracy soon established us as a respected source for TEKS-aligned resources on Jews, Judaism, and Israel. After the TEKS revision, we began working with educators at the state, regional, and district levels to guarantee their access to high-quality resources that support the new standards. We also collaborated with the CSCOPE social studies coordinator to make accurate resources available to those developing lesson plans distributed by the consortium.

PEI is a regular presenter at school district, ESC, and statewide conferences, and has provided workshops the past three years at the TCSS conference. We also staff a booths at TCSS from which free TEKS-aligned resources and lesson plans are distributed.

Our resources include two PEI guides (Teaching Diversity: A K-12 Guide to Teaching About Jews, Judaism, and Israel and De-Mystifying Religion for the Texas Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide) that 1) identify TEKS referencing Jews, Judaism, and/or Israel; and 2) align them with specific resources researched and developed by ICS. PEI organized ICS’s materials into “booklets” that correlate to the Texas TEKS and that contain lesson plans and resources for topics ranging from Jewish holidays and development of the rule of law from ancient Judaic sources to the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process. In fact, ICS offers an excellent series of lesson plans for teaching A Historical Perspective on the Arab-Israeli Conflict. All of these materials are available on PEI’s resource CD and can be downloaded at no cost at the PEI website: www.pei-jcrcdallas.org.

Most recently PEI, in collaboration with Austin ISD Texas history teacher Beth Hudson, developed a new lesson plan aligned with 7th grade Texas history standard (c)(19)Culture, Diversity within Unity: The Texas Cultural Experience. This lesson focuses on how different immigrant groups have impacted–and been impacted by–Texas culture.

PEI’s overriding goal: To guarantee educators ongoing and easy access to accurate resources for teaching standards that reference Jews, Judaism, and Israel. Our services and materials are rigorous, free of charge, TEKS-aligned, and most importantly…accurate. PEI is eager to interface directly with educators at all levels. To schedule a presentation or consultation, email PEI Education Liaison Pat Epstein at pepstein@jfgd.org. Shalom, ya’ll!

Historian's Corner

Black Texans in the Civil Rights Movement

by Michael L. Gillette
Executive Director, Humanities Texas

For almost a century after the Civil War, black Texans faced discrimination in housing, education, employment, and public accommodations. They were barred from serving on juries and subjected to random arrests, police brutality, and even lynching.  Elected officials had little incentive to rectify these injustices, since African Americans were excluded from voting in the Democratic Party’s primary election, the only election that mattered. Therefore, black Texans turned to the one branch of government open to them--the courts.

It required extraordinary courage and perseverance for an African American to sue the State of Texas. The odds of prevailing against the white establishment in court were hardly favorable. A civil rights lawsuit was not only expensive and time-consuming; it could also be hazardous, resulting in physical or economic retaliation. Yet black Texans working through the state’s NAACP branches went to court again and again, filing scores of lawsuits against all forms of racial discrimination.

Their initial target was the white Democratic primary election. After two decades of setbacks and pyrrhic victories, NAACP strategists saw an opening. A Supreme Court decision in a Louisiana corruption case construed the primary election as an essential element of suffrage in a democracy, not simply a political party’s private matter. The NAACP leaders abandoned a Texas voting rights case then in the appellate process and started over, tailoring a new suit to conform to the circumstances of the Louisiana case, except for the petitioner’s race.

Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP’s special counsel, worked with local NAACP branch leaders to secure a plaintiff who had attempted to vote in a 1940 Democratic primary election in which candidates for federal office were on the ballot. They found Dr. Lonnie Smith, a Houston dentist. Marshall drafted the petition, filed the lawsuit, and took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court’s 1944 ruling in Smith v. Allwright overturned the exclusion of blacks from the Democratic primary. In one of their first subsequent elections, black Texans voted overwhelmingly for Lyndon Johnson in his 87-vote victory over former governor Coke Stevenson for the U.S. Senate in 1948.

The triumph over the white primary gave momentum to the state’s burgeoning civil rights movement at a time when black Texans were fighting racism at home and abroad. The number of NAACP branches and memberships expanded dramatically during World War II. The Houston chapter became the second largest branch in the nation with 8,000 members. Memberships brought money; money bought lawsuits.

When the NAACP turned its attention to segregated education, its target could not have been more tempting. The University of Texas offered white students one of the region’s finest law schools, while there was no institution in the state where blacks could study law. Less than a year after the Smith decision, state NAACP leader A. Maceo Smith asked Marshall to return to the state for the new offensive, explaining that “We want to go about it in the same manner that we handled the Texas Primary Case.”

Melvin Tolson on cover of 2009-2010 Texas HistorianThe NAACP’s first challenge was to find a plaintiff. He or she had to be academically qualified, which meant that he could possibly attend a prestigious school in a friendlier environment.  He had to be willing to put his life on hold for four or five years while the suit meandered through the judicial system. Finally, he had to be willing to attend school after the litigation. An education plaintiff faced a greater risk of violence than voting rights plaintiffs did, because he represented a more direct threat to the South’s social order. Texas NAACP leaders searched for a law school plaintiff for more than a year before Heman Marion Sweatt came forward. The thirty-three year old Houston letter carrier was graduate of Wiley College in Marshall, where he had been influenced by Melvin Tolson, an English professor, debate coach, and poet. Tolson, who also inspired CORE founder James Farmer, Jr., and other future civil rights activists to challenge racial discrimination, was later the subject of Denzel Washington’s 2008 movie, The Great Debaters.

After the University of Texas refused to admit Sweatt because of his race, the state devised a series of provisions to preserve segregation. The first was a makeshift curriculum in a Houston law office; the second was a basement law school in a rented building in Austin near the capitol. Finally, the state created an entire university for blacks, now Texas Southern University. Yet, despite these provisions and escalating expenditures, none of the Jim Crow facilities were remotely equal to the University of Texas.

As Sweatt’s lawsuit was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, another African American, Herman Barnett, applied to medical school. The logistical difficulty and the financial extravagance of trying to create a medical overnight for one student forced the state to violate its own segregation statute.  Although officials clung to the fiction of “separate but equal” by listing Barnett’s enrollment in a nonexistent medical school of Texas State University for Negroes, he actually attended classes alongside white students in Galveston.

The creation of the Jim Crow law schools influenced the NAACP attorneys’ decision to shift their strategy when the Sweatt case was remanded to the District Court for trial in March 1947. Instead of merely asking the court to provide an equal educational facility, they adopted a frontal assault on segregation per se, arguing that a separate law school could never be equal. Although the Supreme Court did not overturn Plessy v. Ferguson, its unanimous decision, which cited the significant intangible advantages that graduates of the University of Texas law school enjoyed, essentially concluded that separate legal education could never be equal. Thus, Sweatt v. Painter became an important precedent for Brown v. Board of Education.

A proliferation of NAACP-sponsored lawsuits followed the Sweatt victory. The local branches challenged segregation in public parks, golf courses, courthouse cafeterias, and even the state fair. Segregation at lower educational levels proved more entrenched, particularly in the eastern half of the state. Mobs prevented court-ordered desegregation at Texarkana Junior College and Mansfield High School. In the latter instance, both Governor Allan Shivers and President Eisenhower failed to enforce the federal court’s order.

Following the tactics of other former Confederate states, Texas mounted a counterattack against the NAACP in 1956. Assistant attorneys general, accompanied by uniformed Texas Rangers, raided the organization’s statewide and local branch offices, confiscating financial and membership records. Attorney General John Ben Shepperd sought to put the NAACP out of business in the state, alleging that it had failed to pay a franchise tax and had instigated lawsuits in violation of a barratry statute.  Although the raids and a subsequent lawsuit in Tyler temporarily paralyzed the NAACP in Texas, the cause of civil rights was now gaining momentum throughout the nation. In 1957, Congress passed the first civil rights act since Reconstruction, and the Eisenhower Administration enforced a federal court order desegregating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The movement passed to younger activists who conducted sit-ins, boycotts, and marches to focus public attention to racial discrimination.

But during the last two decades of legal segregation, Texas activists had been in the vanguard of the civil rights movement. Through the NAACP’s extraordinary leadership and fund raising, the organization successfully challenged the white primary election, segregated graduate and professional education, and other forms of racial injustice. Foremost among the leaders were A. Maceo Smith, the strategist in developing a statewide offensive; Lulu B. White and Juanita Craft, the principal organizers; and William J. Durham, the NAACP’s resident counsel. Many respected clergy, including, Albert A. Lucas of Houston, Maynard H. Jackson, Sr., and Ernest C. Estell of Dallas, John D. Epps of Tyler, and Emerson Marcee of San Antonio assumed prominent roles in local branches and the statewide organization. Among the other significant leaders were John J. Jones of Tyler, S. Y. Nixson of Longview, John Sprott of Beaumont, Charles Deo of Lubbock, George Flemmings of Fort Worth, Boyd Hall of Corpus, Carter W. Welsey, Christia Adair, and Francis Williams of Houston, Lawrence A. Nixon of El Paso, C. Austin Whittier of San Antonio, John Clauser of Galveston, and James H. Morton and Arthur DeWitty of Austin.

Featured Lesson

As you plan instruction on the Civil Rights movement in Texas, make sure to include the lesson, Making the Nation Whole–Civil Rights and Lyndon Baines Johnson, developed by the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. In this lesson, students will learn the details and impact of the civil rights legislation which was passed during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. This TEKS correlated lesson includes four primary source videos which can be downloaded or streamed for use in the classroom, as well as a hook, additional activities, and a list of resources.

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

The Texas State Historical Association and the Texas Quiz Show (TQS) now offers a competition in the month of March for fourth grade students and lesson plans for fourth grade teachers. Learn how to utilize the TQS State Championship footage in your classroom and help your students submit their own questions. Seven lucky fourth grade students will have their questions read during the 2013 TQS State Championship in our new “Are You Smarter than a Fourth Grader” round. For more information or to view TQS footage, visit TexasQuizShow.org.


The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum has posted three exciting career opportunities related to Texas history education. They are currently seeking a School Curriculum Manager, Family Programs Manager, and Education Programs Coordinator. These openings are an opportunity to be surrounded daily by the rich story of Texas history and to help others understand it as well. Visit the State Preservation Board website for job postings and additional information.

The Fort McKavett State Historic Site invites the public to celebrate history at the annual West Texas Heritage Days, March 22 -23, 2013.  Activities will include: cavalry, artillery and infantry action drills, Native American living history performances, Buffalo Soldiers, Buffalo Hunters, the Texas Camel Corps and other frontier skills demonstrations. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

On March 23-24, 2013, the Crossroads of Texas Living History Association and Presidio La Bahia will stage a reenactment of the occupation of the fort by Col. Fannin and the Goliad Massacre of Col. Fannin and his men at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad.  During the day, battles will take place around the fort. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Join the George Ranch Historical Park as they recreate the Runaway Scrape. This event recreates the fleeing of the Texians from Santa Anna’s army marching east towards San Jacinto. The event will take place on April 6, 2013 in Houston. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


The annual Battle of San Jacinto Symposium is the premier academic event for the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground.  This event will take place on April 12, 2012 and will feature speakers: Gene Allen Smith, Jerry Thompson, Mark J. Stegmaier, Manuel Gonzalez Oropeza, and James E. Crisp.  For more information visit TeachingTexas.org.

Fort Richardson State Park & Historic Site will celebrate their 146th Anniversary by turning back time, inviting all manner of living historians and historical re-enactors to take us back to the 1860s and 1970s. Meet and interact with the live-action, historical displays, and their characters.  Activities and displays will likely include: camels, longhorns, Dutch oven cooking, and candle making, while cavalry, infantry, and artillery show off their skills throughout the day. The event takes place on April 12-13, 2013. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Celebrate the anniversary of Texas Independence with the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground as they present their annual San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment, at the San Jacinto Monument, April 20, 2013. This festival will provide family entertainment, living history demonstrations, a children’s area and vendors reflecting all things Texas. The battle reenactment is one of the largest in Texas, and is sure to put the event in perspective. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

The Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum would like to invite you to attend their Annual Cotton and Rural History Conference hosted by Collin College. The event will take place on April 20, and will feature award winning author and historian Jim Giesen. Registration is required for each participant and lunch is included in the registration fee. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Learn how to find and use Historic Digital Newspapers in your classroom, June 26, 2013. Participants in the workshop will be able to work the digital newspaper repository into well-crafted lesson plans and activities at the instructional, guided practice, and assessment phases, and thus be able to build students 21st century skills and practice using primary sources. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.

The University of Texas at Austin is offering six-four day, AP Summer Institutes for social studies teachers at the Thompson Conference Center on the UT main campus. Institutes begin on June 10 and will continue until August 1, 2013. Participants will earn 30 credit hours of training. Visit TeachingTexas.org for additional information.


Law-Related Education would like to invite you to attend one of six Institutes on the Founding Documents. Though these institutes are designed for US government and history teachers, there is a correlation to the Texas history TEKS. Institutes will be held over the summer in Rockwall and San Antonio. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with the University of North Texas.

Texas State Historical Association
1155 Union Circle #311580
Denton, TX 76203-5017

Stephen Cure - Editor
Kim White - Associate Editor
JoNeita Kelly - Associate Editor


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