The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000

Without Pride or Apology: The University of Texas
at Austin, Racial Integration, and the
Barbara Smith Case
LEWIS L. GOULD AND MELISSA R. SNEED*
DURING THE AUTUMN OF 1997, THE PERENNIAL ISSUE OF RACE RELATIONS
at the University of Texas at Austin resurfaced when professor of law
Lino Graglia stated that Hispanic and African-American college students
"are not academically competitive with whites" because they have "a culture
that seems not to encourage achievement." Graglia's remarks ignited a
firestorm of controversy that continued into i998 as the university commu-
nity debated issues such as affirmative action and the problems arising from
the history of racial discrimination on the Austin campus.1
Discriminatory racial policies toward African Americans at the Univer-
sity of Texas at Austin have been a significant aspect of the institution's
history. Yet important episodes in the way black Texans have been treat-
ed at the university have not received careful examination. One of the
most controversial such incidents occurred in 1957 when the president
of the university, Dr. Logan Wilson, prevented an African-American stu-
dent, Barbara Louise Smith, from appearing in a campus opera produc-
tion of "Dido and Aeneas." Smith's leading role would have placed her
onstage opposite a white male student. When confronted with the
prospect of "a white boy and a Negro girl" as stars of the opera, Wilson
acted to prevent a situation that he believed would "be provocative of far-
reaching consequences."2
* Lewis L. Gould is Eugene C. Barker Centennial Professor Emeritus in American History at
the University of Texas at Austin. This essay began as a term paper in his undergraduate course
on the history of the University of Texas at Austin. Melissa R. Sneed graduated from the
University of Texas at Austin in 1996 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Microbiology
with Honors. She still resides in Texas where she plans to attend medical school in the fall of
1999. Her plans are to pursue a degree with an emphasis in sports medicine.
"UT Professor Says He Intended No Ill Will," Dallas Morning News, Sept. 16, 1997; "Contro-
versy grows at UT over professor's remarks," Houston Chronicle, Sept. 16, 1997.
2 Logan Wilson, "Statement to the Faculty," May 14, 1957, Almetris Duren Papers, Box
4A261, Center for American History, (hereafter CAH), The University of Texas at Austin, and in
the President's Office Records (POR), College of Fine Arts, "Opera Casting Incident," Box

SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

VOL. CIII, NO. 1

JULY, 1999

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed August 2, 2014.