Teachers from around state gathered in Austin on Friday, Jan. 30, to attend the State Bar of Texas 2015 Law-Related Education Conference at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
The event kicked off with a lecture by Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library. Using videos and recordings of Johnson, Updegrove offered examples of the 36th president’s political strategy, professional relationships, and accomplishments, including the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Updegrove then connected with the audience by remarking on the significance of Johnson’s roots as a teacher in Cotulla and some of the acts he later signed in office.
“He believed that if everybody had access to a great education, there would be no need for civil rights because everybody would have an equal shot at opportunity,” Updegrove said. “I think he probably was the best education president of the 20th century, but he became the Vietnam president.”
Attendees also heard from Bettie Mae Fikes, a Freedom Rider, Freedom Singer, and leader within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1960s. Fikes provided a narrative of her experiences in those years and stressed the importance of sharing the history of the events with students so that they might continue the fight for human rights. “I do what I do today to keep the stories going, because it’s all a part of our history,” Fikes said. “When you teach this, you’ve got to teach it with heart.” Noram Scogin, Grace Cummings, and Beth Brent, representatives of the organization Working With Government, then discussed their efforts to learn more about civil rights and opportunities for teaching schoolchildren about the movement.
The event will continue through Saturday, Jan. 31, and feature multiple breakout sessions with resources for teaching civics. For more information about the conference and State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education, go to texaslre.org.
From left to right: Hector Beltran, president of Law Focused Education, Inc.; Beth Brent; Grace Cummings; Bettie Mae Fikes; Norma Scogin; and Jan Miller, director of State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education.