Division of Campus and Community Engagement
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Remembering Precursor Charles Miles

Charles Murray Miles, one of the first Black undergraduates to attend the University of Texas at Austin passed away on Feb. 25, 2020, at the age of 81. Miles enrolled at UT Austin with 110 other Black undergraduates in 1956. He was well known for his storytelling, especially about escapades with other Precursors including Willie Jordan, Albert Hawkins, and Col. Leon Holland, to name a few.

Charles Miles giving Hook Em with other precursor
Charles Miles, second from left, sings “The Eyes of Texas” during the 60th-anniversary celebration for the first Black undergraduates to enter UT Austin in 1956.

Miles was born on July 8, 1938 in Hearne, Texas to Millie Ann Miles and John Henry Miles Sr. He attended Blackshear High School in Hearne before coming to Austin in 1956. After graduating from UT, he received a Masters degree in Government from the University of North Texas in Denton.

As an educator, he taught at Kealing Junior High and later as a professor of Government at Austin Community College.

He participated in civic and political life, both on a state and local level, most notably working for the United States Commission on Civil Rights, serving as an assistant to then State Comptroller Bob Bullock, the first African-American to do so, being appointed as a member of the Austin Planning Commission, and working as the Executive Director of the Austin Housing Authority.

Three years ago, the Alcalde magazine interviewed Miles and Holland about their experiences as members of the first Blacks in a class of incoming freshmen. Miles recalled, “Coming to the University of Texas wasn’t a hard decision, because I was young and I wasn’t afraid of anything. The day that I made the trip for the first time, my brother was shipping off to Korea with the military on the very same day. My parents were more concerned about me going off to Austin than him going to Korea!”

Miles is survived by three sons–Paul, Charles and Jonathan–and by five siblings.