The Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet is the product of a landmark desegregation lawsuit initiated in the 1970s. The lawsuit, brought by Sam Tasby and others, sought to desegregate the Dallas Independent School District using the ruling from the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954. This case, generally regarded as one of the most consequential in American history, declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court's ruling in the Brown v. Board case was fiercely resisted in much of the South and Dallas was no exception. The city's schools remained de facto segregated until the 1970s.
Using the precedent set by the Brown v. Board case, United States District Judge William M. Taylor ordered Dallas Independent School District (DISD) leaders to develop a plan to fully desegregate the Dallas school system. Judge Barefoot Sanders, a seasoned United States District Judge and legal counsel to President Lyndon B. Johnson, later took over Tasby's initial desegregation lawsuit. He developed a desegregation plan for the district and, in 1983, the Dallas school board agreed to implement it. Judge Sanders oversaw the slow transformation of DISD. The district remained under federal oversight until he declared it officially desegregated in 2003.
A major element of Sanders' desegregation plan for DISD was the creation of four magnet schools. The Law Magnet was created in 1977 and was originally combined with the Education and Social Service Magnet. Judge Sanders later signed an order commanding the Townview Magnet Center be created to house the DISD magnet programs. However, it was not until 1995 that the Law Magnet and the five other DISD magnet programs were consolidated at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center. They have remained there ever since.
During the summer of 2009, the DISD Board of Trustees renamed the Law Magnet the Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, in recognition of Judge Sanders' accomplishments in the field of civil rights and his significant impact on the city of Dallas. The formal naming ceremony was held on October 27, 2009.
Today, the Law Magnet honors Judge Sanders' intentions and is a model of an inclusive school, where all students—regardless of background—are given an opportunity to flourish and succeed.