Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

The Healing Process

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

The Healing Process

Article excerpt

It should have been Barbara Conrad's time to shine.

In 1957, the University of Texas at Austin student had won the lead role of Dido in the college's production of "Dido and Aeneas," a story of two lovers. But after receiving racist threats and phone calls because her leading man was White, school administrators yanked her from the opera.

"It was a terrible day," recalls Conrad, now an opera star living in New York. "That would have been a crowning moment for a girl who's never been in an opera."

The school's decision sparked a national firestorm, and singer/actor Harry Belafonte offered to send Conrad to another school for free. Conrad, however, decided to stay at the University of Texas. It was her state school and near her home in Center Point, Texas. "I couldn't live with running away from something that was rightfully mine," she says.

In the 50-odd years since, Conrad and the University of Texas have worked to heal the rift. The school named Conrad a Distinguished Alumnus in 1985, founded a fine arts scholarship in her name and chronicled her life in a documentary. …

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