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    Campus & Community

    Barbara Smith Conrad: "When I Rise"

    Published: Jan. 31, 2011

    When I Rise” is the uplifting story of Barbara Smith Conrad, a gifted University of Texas at Austin music student who finds herself at the epicenter of racial controversy, struggling against the odds and ultimately ascending to the heights of international opera.

    In 1957, Barbara Smith Conrad, who was part of the first racially integrated undergraduate class at The University of Texas at Austin, became the central figure in a civil rights storm that changed her life forever. Cast in an opera as the romantic lead opposite a white male student, Conrad became embroiled in a bitter controversy that made its way to the halls of the Texas legislature, where segregationist representatives applied pressure on the university. When Conrad was expelled from the opera the incident escalated to the national stage, prompting singer Harry Belafonte — then at the height of his fame — to offer to underwrite her studies at the institution of her choice.

    Rather than flee, Conrad chose to stay at The University of Texas at Austin and complete her degree, graduating in 1959. This small-town girl, whose voice and spirit stem from her roots in East Texas, emerged from the incident to become an internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano and headliner on stages around the world.

    When I Rise” is a production of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and was directed by Mat Hames, produced by James Moll and Michael Rosen, executive produced by Don Carleton, and made possible in part by AT&T.

    Upcoming Events Featuring Barbara Smith Conrad

    Visit the official “When I Rise” Web site.

    • Quote 2
      Joel Ruffin said on Jan. 8, 2012 at 2:07 p.m.
      "When I Rise", the story and journey of Barbara Smith Conrad spoke to the very depths of my soul and heart. It is a true story of triumph and an example of an extraordinary human being with a timely and relevant message for us today. Thank you for sharing your gift with world. We will never be the same.
    • Quote 2
      zandriah said on Dec. 14, 2011 at 3:33 p.m.
      thank you for "when I rise"
    • Quote 2
      longtimelonghorn said on Aug. 4, 2011 at 10:29 a.m.
      When I Rise is so profound and sweet as pure honey. For thru it all she Barbara Conrad still stood tall and rose high above the shameful racial discrimination as a student at the University of Texas @ Austin and later she return and preformed on on the same campus that had painfully shunned her. Other might had retreated of given up, but not Barbara Conrad. God brought her thru a painful experience in her life's journey that many, many other minorities have faced. But it did not defeat her dream, it encouraged it, it embodied a full blown beauty of grace and confidence and elagance and she rose above it all. I had the unique pleasure of see her preform here at The University of Texas @ Austin and follow her awsome career. Thank you Barbara for holding on, and moving forward and following your heart's desire. You are a light that God used to encourage others to hold fast to their belief in themselves and to preservere in the mist of trials & disappointments. Your success means that you were true to yourself. And I know God saw the good in you and said just hold on my child, a little while longer and I'll see you thru. And because you did He blessed and honored you and raise you up for his glory. Thanks for coming back to the University of Texas @ Austin and Austin Texas Capital and giving amazing proformances. May God keep you my sister and continue to enhance your blessings during your life time. We can do and be so much more when we allow God in our lives.
    • Quote 2
      Chris said on July 11, 2011 at 10:46 p.m.
      Thank you for the post. I'm going to try and find this movie, since I know it did well at SXSW and I have never been disappointed with that festivals movie selection.
    • Quote 2
      Georgia R King said on Feb. 12, 2011 at 11:38 p.m.
      Thank you for "When I Rise". Thank you, Thank you for "When I Rise".
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