U. Simpson Tate, black civil rights attorney, was born in Monroe County, Alabama, in 1901. He received a bachelor's degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor of laws degree from Howard University. He was admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C., in 1947 and in Texas in 1949. Tate practiced law briefly in Washington, D.C., before moving to Dallas, where he became regional counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Southwest Region.
As regional counsel he reported directly to Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP special counsel in New York City who directed a nationwide litigation campaign aimed at desegregating schools, colleges, and other public facilities. Tate helped carry out the litigation desegregation campaign in Texas during the 1950s. He worked closely with Juanita Craft, William J. Durham, A. Maceo Smith, Carter Wesley, Lulu B. White, and other NAACP leaders; the Legal Redress Committee, an association of volunteer lawyers; and the Texas State Conference of Branches, an umbrella organization for NAACP chapters in Dallas, Houston, Beaumont, and other Texas cities. Tate, Durham, and other Texas lawyers initiated numerous lawsuits eventually winning access for black citizens to Dallas public schools; Fort Worth public parks; Lamar State College of Technology; North Texas State College; San Antonio public parks; Texarkana Junior College; Texas Western College; Tyrrell and Central parks in Beaumont; and other public facilities. Tate also worked with the United Steelworkers of America and the Sheffield Steel Company in Houston to eliminate discrimination against African-American workers in the steel industry. Tate moved to Oklahoma in 1963 and died in Wewoka on December 14, 1968. He was survived by three stepchildren.
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Melvin J. Banks, The Pursuit of Equality: The Movement for First Class Citizenship Among Negroes in Texas, 1920–1950 (Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1962). Michael L. Gillette, The NAACP in Texas, 1937–1957 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1984). Richard Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004). New York Times, December 15, 1968. Report of U. Simpson Tate, Regional Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Southwest Region, NAACP II, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington. Robert J. Robertson, Fair Ways: How Six Black Golfers Won Civil Rights in Beaumont, Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2005). Amilcar Shabazz, Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
Activism and Social Reform
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Robert J. Robertson,
“Tate, U. Simpson,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
January 27, 2006
Most Recent Revision Date:
December 28, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: