Texas Tech University

University Recognizes 60th Anniversary of Desegregation

Taylor Peters

July 17, 2021

(VIDEO) Lucille “Sugar” Graves made history in 1961 when she became the first African-American student to enroll at Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University.

In 1960, after more than a year of integration efforts by Graves, she scheduled a meeting with then-President Robert Goodwin. Graves was accompanied by her nephew, T.J. Patterson, and another gentleman when she learned she had again been denied application to Texas Tech. 

According to an oral history from Graves, she recalled a phone call that took place during the summer of 1961 from Goodwin, informing her that if she could be on campus within 15 minutes, she would be able to enroll in classes. 

She signed up for two graduate courses that summer, opening the door for more than a dozen Black students to enroll the following fall semester. 

Graves, who had completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Butler College in Tyler, was an educator in Lubbock when she started classes at Texas Tech. In 1954, she had founded the Mary & Mac Private School in east Lubbock. It was the first private school for African-American students in the city. Shortly after Graves passed away in 1993, the Mary & Mac School closed.

Graves' nephew, who joined her in efforts to attend Texas Tech, would go on to work for the university as an assistant dean in the College of Business Administration.

Graves' legacy continues to inspire members of the Texas Tech community, decades after her departure.