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The First African American Graduates of the University of Texas School of Law

Gloria Bradford, '54

Gloria Bradford, 1953 Peregrinus
Gloria Bradford,
1953 Peregrinus

Gloria Bradford (February 19, 1930-January 20, 2013) grew up in Houston and obtained a B.A. degree from Prairie View A&M in 1949. Following her graduation from Prairie View A&M, she worked as an intern at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Ms. Bradford began post-graduate work at American University in 1950.  With the encouragement of her roommate, a student at Howard University School of Law, she applied to the University of Texas School of Law for the 1951-1952 school year.  In May 1954, she became the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Texas School of Law.

Following graduation, Ms. Bradford practiced in Houston with the firm of Dent, Ford, King & 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 & Witcliff, Ms. Bradford and two other attorneys opened their own firm. Ms. 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. She later moved to California, working 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, Ms. 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 was interviewed as part of Tarlton Law Library's oral history series. The transcript of her remembrances may be found here.