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Texas Southern University Updates (1968)


Sound | 1968

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  •  A change of venue hearing at the Harris County courthouse regarding the trial of Charles Freeman, one of the so-called “TSU Five,” on April 28, 1968 
  •  The defendant, Charles Freeman 
  •  Student demonstration at Texas Southern University on March 28, 1967. In March 1967, the University dismissed the Friends of  the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as an on-campus organization and fired its faculty adviser, Mack Jones. Students launched a week of protests in response.  
  •  A school administrator publicizes the appointment of a new TSU president: Dr. Granville M. Sawyer. The previous president, Dr. Joseph A. Pierce, resigned after the TSU Riot. He had only been in office one year. Sawyer became TSU fourth’s president in July 1968, serving through 1979. 
  •  Freeman hearing 
  •  Harris County District Attorney Carol Vance 
  •  TSU School of Business 
  •  An unidentified man, possibly TSU Dean of Students James B. Jones, expresses doubt on individual administrators ability to prevent campus unrest. Jones made the decision to oust Friends of SNCC, which started the campus demonstrations. With the state legislature already considering a cut to TSU’s budget, he reasoned that too much support for the activist group would jeopardize the university’s funding. 
  •  Freeman hearing 
  •  District Judge Wendell Odom explains his decision to transfer the trial. District Judge Joe Kelly of Victoria subsequently set a trial date of June 24. 
  •  Houston Police Chief Herman Short explains the department’s effort to recruit minority officers. Despite Short’s comments, the Houston Police Department remained overwhelmingly white for decades.  
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This unedited footage from Houston’s KPRC-TV contains a series of short news segments related to events at Texas Southern University. As with the rest of the country, the 1960s were a period of rising racial tension in Houston. This footage captures happenings before and after what is arguably the height of that unrest: the so-called “TSU Riot.” On the night of May 16, 1967, a standoff between students and police escalated into an hours-long shootout, resulting in the death of one rookie patrolman and the arrest of nearly 500 students. A small group of students, known as the “TSU Five,” were the only ones to face charges. This film captures a change of venue hearing regarding the trial for one of the “TSU Five,” Charles Freeman. Footage of a student demonstration and a press conference with Police Chief Herman Short is also included.
On the night of May 16, 1967, police blockaded the Texas Southern University campus in response to a student civil rights protest. Amidst the high racial tensions, the confrontation escalated into an “Alamo-scale shootout,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Police fired an estimated 3,000 rounds into TSU’s Lanier Dormitory, where the students were blockaded. Law enforcement raided the building in the early morning hours of May 17, arresting 488 students—the largest mass arrest in Houston history. Two police officers were wounded and another, rookie Louis Kuba, was killed. A small group of students, known as the TSU Five, were indicted on charges of inciting a riot, assault, and murder. They were Charles Freeman, Trazawell Franklin, Douglas Waller, John Parker, and Floyd Nichols. Only Freeman was tried, resulting in a hung jury. A judge ultimately dismissed the case against all five defendants due to insufficient evidence, believing that Kuba most likely died from a ricocheting police bullet.