South Texas College of Law Houston

STCL Houston’s First Black Law Student, Mamie Proctor, Changed the School for the Better

During Black History Month 2022, South Texas College of Law Houston shines a spotlight on the late Houston attorney Mamie Proctor, the first Black student to attend STCL Houston.

Working full time, raising three small children and attending law school classes at night would be a considerable challenge for anyone. Of course, Mamie Proctor ’68 wasn’t just anyone.

Entering South Texas College of Law Houston in 1965, Proctor was the school’s first Black student and Black graduate. Born in Vicksburg, Miss., in 1930, she began her postsecondary education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. — one of the country’s top historically Black colleges and universities. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music history and returned to her hometown to teach elementary school.

Four years later, she moved to Houston and joined the library staff at Texas Southern University. Initially managing the circulation department, Proctor ultimately became the director of library services for the TSU School of Law and became a certified law librarian – a rare and special achievement at the time. Along the way, she also found time to earn a master’s degree in library science from Catholic University of America.

Her passion for education led her to STCL Houston. At the time, South Texas primarily offered evening classes, allowing Proctor to continue in her role at TSU during the day and work toward her J.D. degree at South Texas at night.

In 1968, Proctor completed her trailblazing journey as Houston’s first Black law school graduate, crediting the confidence she learned from her father and the encouragement of STCL Houston faculty at the time for her successful integration into the culture.

Following graduation, Proctor began a successful private practice that focused on family law, probate, real estate and other types of civil law. In the 1980s, she became actively involved with the Texas Republican Party, serving as secretary and as a delegate to state and national conventions.

As a board member of the Texas Department of Corrections and president of the Black Republican Women’s Club of Texas,Proctor’s credentials caught the attention of then-Governor Bill Clements. In 1989, he appointed her to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice to help set prison, parole and probation policy.

Proctor died in October 2010, at the age of 80. She remained in Houston until that time, and her legacy in Houston’s legal community is impressive. For STCL Houston, Proctor represented an important step toward diversity that continues today as a fundamental part of the law school’s mission.