Gloria Bradford (1930-2013) grew up in Houston and obtained a B.A. degree from Prairie View A&M in 1949. Following her graduation from Prairie View, she worked as an intern at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Bradford began post-graduate work at American University in 1950 and also served as a member of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
With the encouragement of her roommate, a Howard University School of Law student, she applied to the University of Texas School of Law for the 1951-1952 school year. Initially, administrators questioned whether she was a Texas resident.
Since Bradford, a registered Texas voter, had previously paid a poll tax of $1.50 giving her voting privileges, she was considered a resident and ultimately admitted to the Law School.
During her first year of law school, Bradford had the opportunity to meet Thurgood Marshall, who was attending a state convention in Austin. Heman Sweatt, the first African-American to attend the University of Texas School of Law, had dropped out due to medical issues, but Marshall told Bradford, "You're going to make it." In May 1954, she became the first African-American woman to graduate from the University of Texas School of Law.
Following graduation, Bradford practiced in Houston with the firm of Dent, Ford, King and Witcliff where she was involved in both civil and criminal practice. In October 1954, she became the first African-American woman to try a case in Harris County District Court. After four years working with Dent, Ford, King and Witcliff, Bradford and two other attorneys opened their own firm.
Bradford was in private practice for about six years before taking the opportunity to move to New York to work as a sales representative for Law Research, Inc., the first computerized research firm in the country. Bradford later settled in California where she remained. She worked as a sales manager for Encyclopaedia Americana for a number of years before retiring.
In addition to her involvement with the Young Democrats and the Y.W.C.A. in her youth, Bradford was a member of the American Southwest Regional Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, Houston Lawyers Association, and the Houston Association for Better Schools.
In 2006, Ms. Bradford returned to visit the University of Texas School of Law and participated in an oral history. Published in 2011, the transcript of her remembrances may be found here.