A Footnote to History and a Reminder

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Ralph
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A Footnote to History and a Reminder

Post by Ralph » Sun May 14, 2006 6:59 am

Missing U.S. civil rights pioneer honored
He filed a 1935 legal challenge to integrate University of Missouri

COLUMBIA, Missouri (AP) -- Civil rights pioneer Lloyd L. Gaines has finally earned a law degree from the University of Missouri, 67 years after he mysteriously disappeared while the courts fought over his effort to integrate the campus.

Hundreds of honors graduates and their families who gathered on the Francis Quadrangle Saturday morning gave a standing ovation to George Gaines, a retired U.S Navy officer who accepted the honorary degree awarded posthumously to his uncle.

Were he alive today, Gaines would be 95.

"A major part of the dream of Lloyd Gaines, to have a law degree from the University of Missouri, has been fulfilled today," his nephew said.

Denied admission in 1935 solely because of the color of his skin, Lloyd Gaines filed a legal challenge that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled three years later that the state must either admit Gaines or establish a separate law school for blacks.

But Gaines, an honors graduate of historically black Lincoln University, never made it to law school.

Four years after he failed to gain admission to Missouri, Gaines -- who by then had already earned a master's degree in economics from Michigan while struggling to earn a living and handle his notoriety -- disappeared from a Chicago boarding house, his fate unknown.

"It's really important that we're seeing his name, not just hidden in some small reference book, to know that his sacrifice is appreciated by more than just a few members of our family and the African-American community," said Tracy Berry, a federal prosecutor whose grandmother was Lloyd Gaines' youngest sister.

For decades, the fate of Gaines has been the subject of much speculation among historians, family members and journalists, with theories ranging from a violent ending at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan to a self-imposed exile in Mexico.

In his final letter to his mother, written from Chicago on March 3, 1939, Gaines described the financial struggles and pressure he faced -- including among members of his own race -- as a symbol for the seismic shift in race relations that would soon emerge.

"I have found that my race still likes to applaud, shake hands, pat me on the back and say how great and noble is the idea, how historic and socially important the case (is) but -- there it ends," he wrote.

"Off and out of the confines of the publicity columns, I am just a man -- not one who has fought and sacrificed to make the case possible ... just another man whose name no one recognized."

After Gaines disappeared, it would be another decade before Missouri admitted a black student.

The honorary degree, which required Missouri to make an exception to rules forbidding such awards to the deceased, is the latest in a series of honors bestowed upon Gaines by the university.

In 2001, the school named its Black Culture Center after Gaines and Marian O'Fallon Oldham, the university's first black female curator. A plaque, portrait and display case in the law school commemorates his struggle, as does a law school scholarship in his name.

Posing for pictures and shaking the hands of well-wishers after the ceremony, Lloyd Gaines' descendants basked in the recognition he was denied. The honorary degree offered some solace -- but not closure.

"To know what happened -- that would bring closure," said Berry. "I don't know if that will ever be possible."
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

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Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 14, 2006 2:24 pm

I watched that marvelous documentary, The Road To Brown, again last month. Gaines was one of the earliest cases discussed.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Sun May 14, 2006 7:59 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:I watched that marvelous documentary, The Road To Brown, again last month. Gaines was one of the earliest cases discussed.
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There's only time for a brief coverage of this case in my Con Law course. I sent the article to colleagues and students this morning and I've received many e-mail "thanks" in return.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 15, 2006 12:46 am

Ralph wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:I watched that marvelous documentary, The Road To Brown, again last month. Gaines was one of the earliest cases discussed.
*****

There's only time for a brief coverage of this case in my Con Law course. I sent the article to colleagues and students this morning and I've received many e-mail "thanks" in return.
You should show the program to your students. It's got some great lawyerin' in it. I had persuaded the folks at NASA to show it to the Counsel's office but they couldn't get a copy in time.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Mon May 15, 2006 6:30 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:I watched that marvelous documentary, The Road To Brown, again last month. Gaines was one of the earliest cases discussed.
*****

There's only time for a brief coverage of this case in my Con Law course. I sent the article to colleagues and students this morning and I've received many e-mail "thanks" in return.
You should show the program to your students. It's got some great lawyerin' in it. I had persuaded the folks at NASA to show it to the Counsel's office but they couldn't get a copy in time.
******

There's only so much time in a course as you well know. Just showing "Debbie Does Dallas" before we cover pornography and the Firtst Amendment consumes more than one class period. But no one leaves before it's over.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 15, 2006 10:59 am

Ralph wrote:There's only so much time in a course as you well know. Just showing "Debbie Does Dallas" before we cover pornography and the Firtst Amendment consumes more than one class period. But no one leaves before it's over.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: Probably not much lawyerin' in Debbie, but there's tons of legal strategy in the Road to Brown.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Mon May 15, 2006 2:08 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:There's only so much time in a course as you well know. Just showing "Debbie Does Dallas" before we cover pornography and the Firtst Amendment consumes more than one class period. But no one leaves before it's over.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: Probably not much lawyerin' in Debbie, but there's tons of legal strategy in the Road to Brown.
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Which approach do you think most law students prefer?
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 15, 2006 6:32 pm

Ralph wrote:Which approach do you think most law students prefer?
They already know how to have sex. What they need to know is how to be lawyers.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Mon May 15, 2006 7:29 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:Which approach do you think most law students prefer?
They already know how to have sex. What they need to know is how to be lawyers.
*****

Sexy lawyers? :)
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

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