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History symposium to focus on Civil Rights Act

For more than two months during the spring of 1964, the U.S. Senate debated the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. After a 54-day filibuster of the legislation, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a compromise bill, which was passed on June 19, 1964, and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2. The Civil Rights Act ended the “Jim Crow” laws in place since 1896 to provide “separate but equal” facilities for whites and African Americans.

The annual Texas History Symposium at the University of North Texas on April 12 will present two speakers to give a 50-year perspective of the Civil Rights Act, particularly as it was applied in Texas. The symposium is scheduled from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at UNT’s Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building.

Michael Phillips, a scholar of Texas race relations and a professor of history at Collin College in Plano, will be the morning speaker at 10 a.m. Phillips, a former reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, received the Texas Historical Commission’s T.R. Fehrenbach Award for his 2007 book, “White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion In Dallas, 1841-2001,” which chronicles the majority white population of Dallas during the city’s first 150 years. The book was an update of Phillips’ doctoral dissertation from the University of Texas.

Phillips is also the co-author of “Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power From Roosevelt to Obama,” and is currently collaborating on another book, “God Carved In Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas, The World They Lived In and the World They Made,” with his wife, former Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter and editor Betsy Friauf.

Retired Dallas Independent School District educator Leon King will give the afternoon presentation at 12:30 p.m. In the fall of 1956, King, a graduate of Dallas’ Lincoln High School, became one of the first two African-American athletes at UNT, then North Texas State Teachers College. King and fellow Lincoln graduate Abner Haynes were both walk-on players on the college’s freshmen football team, a full 10 years before any Southwest Conference teams integrated.

King earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from UNT  in 1962 and became a coach at Lincoln High School. He later returned to the university and earned a master’s degree in 1972. King also earned his doctoral degree from Nova University and had a long career as a teacher and high school principal.

  • Learn more: contact Marie Watkins in the UNT Department of History at 940-565-3197 or email

—Nancy Kolsti, News Promotions

Posted on: Thu 03 April 2014

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