Nixon, Lawrence A., 1883-1966; African Americans--civil rights; Southwestern studies (El Paso, Tex.)
"I know you can't let me vote, but I've got to try." With this simple statement in an El Paso polling place on July 26, 1924, Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon quietly began opening the doors to disenfranchised black citizens of the United States. Dr. Nixon, a physician and respected El Pasoan, had voted regularly over a period of years. Since the black community of El Paso represented a three percent minority in the city, the black vote constituted no political threat. But when the time came to test a 1923 Texas law which took voting privileges away from blacks, Dr. Nixon was willing to file the historical lawsuit. He came to El Paso in 1910, the same year he had joined the fledging NAACP. Fourteen years later he and his attorney, Fred Knollenberg, cooperated with the NAACP in taking the case of Nixon vs. Herndon to the U. S. Supreme Court. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the opinion in a unanimous ruling in favor of Nixon. Twenty years were to pass before Dr. Nixon's pathmarking legal challenge would completely open the door to the black franchise but the gentle El Paso physician, who died in 1966, would live to see most of the work accomplished.