01. February 2009 · Comments Off on Read Online · Categories: Read Online

Conrad, the youngest of seven children, grew up in a rural town near Pittsburg, Texas. Her dream was to be a singer, and she got the chance to pursue that at UT. But UT was not a welcoming place for African American students in 1956, when integration on campus was in its infancy.

Black students were banned from living in campus dormitories and eating in school cafeterias. So Conrad and other black female students lived in a private dorm in East Austin. They were the first wave of black undergraduates to enter UT, and they braved regular intimidation. Those students endured indignities quietly as a cost of getting an education at the state’s flagship.

Through music, Conrad and many of her white peers found common ground. Nonetheless, bigotry turned her world upside down.

In 1956, months after starting classes, Conrad won the coveted role to sing Dido in Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aeneas.” After she rehearsed for some six months for the UT production, UT officials pressured by the Legislature unceremoniously stripped her of the role. The action was taken to prevent Conrad from playing the love interest of the white male student who was cast as Aeneas. The action reverberated across the country, even getting the attention of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

The full article is here.

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