Heman Marion Sweatt and Abigail Noel Fisher both wanted to attend the University of Texas at Austin.
Both claimed their race was a primary reason for their rejection. Both filed civil rights lawsuits, and the Supreme Court ultimately agreed to hear their separate appeals -- filed more than half a century apart.
Their cases share much in common -- vexing questions of competition, fairness, and demographics -- and what role government should play when promoting political and social diversity.
But it is the key difference between these plaintiffs -- separated by three generations and a troubled road to "equality" -- that now confronts the nation's highest court: Sweatt was black, Fisher is white.