Authors James Endersby and William Horner discussed their new book Lloyd Gaines and the Fight to End Segregation Saturday morning during The Boone County Historical Society’s monthly “Meet the Authors” event.
Chris Campbell, the Executive Director for the Boone County Historical Society, says “Meet the Authors” events are meant to celebrate great writing.
“The goal is to give people a great experience.” Campbell says.
The book chronicles the case of Lloyd Gaines, a black man who applied to the University of Missouri law school in 1935 and was denied entry solely because of his race.
“Mizzou was all white. This was a segregated town” says co-author James Endersby. “There were clear divisions on the basis of race as to what you could do and what you could not do.”
Gaines and the NAACP sued the University of Missouri, arguing that Gaines’ 14th Amendment rights were being violated. The case, Gaines v Canada, eventually climbed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Gaines’ favor.
The University of Missouri’s initial response to the ruling of Gaines v Canada was to establish a separate, segregated law school in St. Louis through Lincoln University. As the NAACP was forming another case against the University of Missouri for the establishment of a new segregated school in St. Louis, lawyers for the University of Missouri asked Gaines’ lawyers to get in contact of Gaines so he could be deposed. By this time in 1939, Gaines had vanished and was never seen again.
Endersby says there are several likely scenarios as to what happened to Gaines, ranging from foul play to Gaines simply walking away.
“This was a difficult life to live, where you’re at the forefront of a civil rights revolution. And yet at the same time, you have no real job. You have no education. You have no real means of support. This is a heavy, heavy burden to bear,” Endersby explains. “So, one other alternative is that Lloyd Gaines just walked away and said, ‘I’ve had enough’.”