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MEDIA ADVISORY: UT Austin Salutes First Class of Black Undergraduates

UT Austin celebrates the 1956 class of African American undergraduates, known as The Precursors, at several events on and off campus.

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EVENT: The University of Texas at Austin will celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Precursors, the first group of African American undergraduates to integrate the Forty Acres in 1956. Events are coordinated by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, The Precursors and the Texas Exes Black Alumni Network.

WHEN: Sept. 8-10. The official UT Austin speaker event will be on Friday, Sept. 9, 3-5 p.m.

WHERE: Events will take place at various locations on and off campus.

WHO MAY ATTEND: The panel discussion on Thursday, Sept. 8, and the official UT speaker event on Friday, Sept. 9, are free and open to the public.

BACKGROUND: In 1956, about 90 African American undergraduates began attending The University of Texas at Austin. Since that watershed year, thousands of African American students have attended this flagship institution.

“As we celebrate this milestone in the history of Texas’ premier university, we are privileged to honor those who courageously paved the way for the advancement of civil rights on the Forty Acres and throughout the United States,” said Gregory J. Vincent, vice president of diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.

“We stand on the shoulders of the courageous men and women who were among the first African American students to enroll at The University of Texas at Austin,” said Stephanie Johnson, Black Alumni Network president. “Through their grace, dignity and determination, The Precursors showed the world they belonged on the Forty Acres. We look forward to honoring them and reconnecting with many other fellow Longhorns—former classmates and friends—during homecoming.”


Thursday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., Etter-Harbin Alumni Center, 2110 San Jacinto Blvd.
Members of The Precursors, current UT students and alumni will discuss their experiences as African Americans on campus during a panel discussion titled “Then and Now.”

Friday, Sept. 9, 3-5 p.m., LBJ Auditorium, 2313 Red River St.
The Precursors will be honored at an event titled “Facing the Winds of Change with Dignity, Courage and Wisdom.” It will feature remarks by UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves, UT System Chancellor William McRaven and state Sen. Rodney Ellis. Members of The Precursors will also discuss their experiences on campus during a panel discussion. For more about The Precursors, visit As We Saw It, a website that chronicles UT Austin’s story of integration.

Friday, Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m., Crowne Plaza Hotel, 6121 N. Interstate 35
The Black Alumni Network will continue the celebration honoring the 1956 undergraduates.

Saturday, Sept. 10, 6 p.m., Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, 405 E. 23rd St.
The Precursors and the honorary chairman of the celebration, Earl Campbell, will take part in the coin toss and be recognized during the Texas v. UTEP game.