Because of his determination to get a higher education, George W. McLaurin became the first African American to attend the University of Oklahoma. Initially, the university denied his entry to their graduate programme because there was segregation at that time.
He applied again and he was accepted into the university of Oklahoma in the year 1948, this was due to the fact that he filed a case against the university for not accepting him.
The ruling on the case enabled African Americans to be admitted into the university of Oklahoma, but on a segregated basis. Although they couldn’t stop McLaurin from entering the classroom, but he wasn’t allowed to sit with his other colleagues or use thesame facilities with them.
McLaurin was sitting in a secluded area during classes. Other special accommodations were still created to continue the segregation. These things included special seating area in the cafeteria, sporting events and even separate restroom facilities. He used to sit on the desk that was behind stacks of newspapers at the library, so that his colleagues won’t be able to see him. He took this case to the federal court in Oklahoma city, but they upheld the discriminative decision.
McLaurin later filed for another suit for equality, but this time, he took the case to the supreme court. The U.S. Supreme Court heard McLaurin’s appeal on April 1950 and in June, they unanimously reversed the lower court’s decision.
Chief Justice Fred Vinson, said that; “the differential treatment that was given to McLaurin, was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause: “these restrictions would impair and inhibit his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession.” McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950) signalled that, the Supreme Court will not tolerate any separate treatment of students based on their race”.
McLaurin enjoyed the support of Thurgood Marshall, Amos T. Hall, Roscoe Dunjee, and five other African American students that were admitted to his school, who also went through similar conditions like different classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, and restrooms.
The case helped them to overturn the policy that was promoting separate provisions. Despite everything that was done to him, McLaurin’s name still remains in the honor roll as one of the three best students of the university.
McLaurin said that ;Some of my colleagues will look me as if I’m not a human being, nobody ever talked to me, the teachers acted like they weren’t even there for me, and they did not always take my questions when I asked. But I devoted myself so much and they began to look for me to give them explanations and to clear their questions.”
McLaurin was born on September 16, 1894, he got a master’s degree from the University of Kansas and he was a retired professor that lived in Oklahoma City. He also taught at Langston University. He passed way on September 4, 1968.The George McLaurin Male Leadership Conference, was named after this great man