We Are Texas East Mall Project

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

Photographed by Ursula Rogers

Gloria Smith-Bailey

Gloria Smith-Bailey entered UT in 1973.

“A lot of Precursors have some real wounds, you know. I know that I have several of my friends who are Precursors that are graduated from here. Their only good thing about this, that they look on is, you know – when you write The University of Texas down… on your application, or whatever, it speaks volumes… it’ll help you get what you need. And that’s what we used it for… When you have that name behind you, and they can’t take that away, once you got it, you know, thank goodness… and not to forget how much other people had to endure just to make sure that they got it. And it still holds its value. So regardless of how much pain or influence or lack of that you had to go through just to get it, but it’s important… When you write down University of Texas, there’s a lot of doors that can open for you just because you’re able to do that. And that’s why we did it.”
Gloria Smith-Bailey


Photographed and interviewed on May 15, 2022 at the Moody School of Communications, UT Austin, Austin, Texas.

Learn more about

Precursors Oral Histories Project