Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »


Nolan Thompson

WHITE, ISRAEL SCOTT (1885–1960). Israel Scott White, civic leader and civil-rights advocate, was born near Longview on March 15, 1885. He was the youngest of three sons of Noah and Susan White, who worked as dirt farmers. White attended the Pleasant Hill Community School near his home and was encouraged at an early age to study law. He received his bachelor's degree from Bishop College in Marshall and in the mid-1920s entered Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. After his graduation from Howard in 1927, he returned to Texas and established a funeral home near downtown Longview. White decided to forego a law practice and offer legal advice informally, so as to circumvent the animosity toward black attorneys prevalent in the white community. On November 6, 1937, he married Velma Isam. They had one child, Agnes Sue White. Enriched by the discovery of oil on his family's land, White served as vice president of the Universal Oil and Gas Mining Company, an entirely black-owned business. In 1948 he and his family founded the Longview Burial Association, which served as a training ground and employment center for blacks interested in the insurance business. White served as chairman of the association and also as a member of the executive committee of the State Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association of Texas. White also owned and drove an ambulance; he became angered at the obvious neglect for black patients in segregated hospitals run by whites. He persuaded the directors of the Camp Normal Industrial Institute, a vocational school for blacks, to incorporate their institution into a hospital. White drew up plans for the hospital and found a black physician, Dr. Obra Jesuit Moore, to serve as its administrator. White protested infringements on black voting rights. When the Democratic party white primary was abolished, he led voter registration and poll tax drives in Gregg County. He also held "how to vote" sessions for the Longview chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in which he demonstrated the use of voting machines. White kept a list of eligible voters and chided blacks who were registered but did not vote. Blacks familiar with his work nicknamed him Judge White. In 1958 he ran for a seat on the board of the Longview Independent School District and received a quarter of the votes. He also joined civil-rights attorneys in a successful suit to desegregate Kilgore Junior College and led a funding drive to help finance the lawsuit of Sweatt v. Painter that integrated the University of Texas. His attempt to enroll his daughter and one of her friends into the all-white Longview Junior High School did not succeed but resulted in the construction of a junior high school for blacks. White was an active member of the Bethel Baptist Church at Longview. He died on December 22, 1960. See also CIVIL-RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

Effie Kaye Adams, Tall Black Texans: Men of Courage (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall-Hunt, 1972). Andrew Webster Jackson, A Sure Foundation and a Sketch of Negro Life in Texas (Houston, 1940).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Nolan Thompson, "WHITE, ISRAEL SCOTT," accessed July 16, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox