We Are Texas East Mall Project

The first cohort of Black undergraduates, who refer to themselves as the Precursors,
started classes in 1956.

John Willis Hargis

John Willis Hargis entered UT in 1955.

“I told the University of Texas that I wanted to come during the summertime… I wasn’t going to wait for September because I didn’t trust them anymore, okay? I learned fast. When I got here… I was told I couldn’t register with everyone else, I had to go to [President] Dr. Logan Wilson’s office. The first thing [President Wilson] asked me when I walked into his office was where’s my lawyer. And the first thing in my mind was, ‘35,000 students at the University of Texas. Do each of them have a lawyer to matriculate here?! Maybe I’m in the wrong field… maybe I should become a lawyer so I can take care of university students…’ I was serious. I thought that every university student had to have a lawyer.”
John Willis Hargis

Learn more about

Precursors Oral Histories Project