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Civil rights leader Lulu White dies

July
06
1957

On this day in 1957, teacher and civil rights activist Lulu White died, possibly of heart failure. Lulu Belle Madison was born in 1907 in Elmo, Texas. Later she moved to Houston and married businessman Julius White. After receiving a bachelor's degree in English from Prairie View College, she embarked on a teaching career in the Height, a black community on the outskirts of Houston. She also joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in which her husband had been active for some time. White soon dedicated all of her time to the NAACP and its struggle to eliminate the state's white primary. Her seven-year tenure as executive secretary of the NAACP's Houston chapter, the largest in the South, brought her state and national attention. After the Supreme Court handed down its 1944 decision in Smith v. Allwright, which finally outlawed the white primary, White was at the forefront of educating blacks to vote. When the NAACP looked for a case that would integrate the University of Texas in 1945, White chose the plaintiff, Heman Marion Sweatt, and, with the legal core of the NAACP, pursued the case of Sweatt v. Painter to the Supreme Court. Sweatt later credited White's leadership for maintaining his own resolve.

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