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Myra McDaniel

Myra McDaniel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Eva and Toronto Atwell on December 13, 1932. McDaniel attended the prestigious Philadelphia High School for Girls and went on to receive her B.A degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954. McDaniel then worked several administrative jobs at Baldwin Wallace College in Ohio and at Indiana University and received her J.D degree from the University of Texas School of Law at Austin in 1975.

McDaniel was hired by the Attorney General’s Office in Texas and worked her way up to chief of the taxation division in 1979. She then worked as counsel for the Railroad Commission. McDaniel then entered private practice in Midland Texas, but Governor Mark White appointed her as General Counsel to the governor. In 1984, she became the first African American in Texas history to serve as the Secretary of State. In this position, McDaniel was also the highest- ranked African American appointee in the history of Texas government. McDaniel then entered private practice in 1987 with Bickerstaff, Heath, Smiley, Pollan, Kever, and McDaniel, L.L.P., becoming the first African American woman to lead a major law firm as managing partner in 1995.

McDaniel has received numerous awards for her outstanding community service. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bishop Quinn Foundation in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and past senior warden of Saint James Episcopal Church.

McDaniel is married to Dr. Reuben R. McDaniel, Professor of Management Science and Information Systems, at the University of Texas at Austin. McDaniel passed away on February, 25, 2010.

McDaniel was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 6, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.048

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/6/2007

Last Name

McDaniel

Maker Category
Middle Name

Atwell

Schools

Philadelphia High School for Girls

University of Pennsylvania

University of Texas at Austin School of Law

First Name

Myra

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

MCD02

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Pennsylvania

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/13/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chocolate (Dark)

Death Date

2/25/2010

Short Description

Administrative lawyer and state government appointee Myra McDaniel (1932 - 2010 ) was appointed the first African American woman in Texas history to serve as the Secretary of State. In this position, McDaniel was the highest-ranked African American appointee in the history of Texas government, later entering private practice as the first African American woman to lead a major law firm as managing partner.

Employment

Baldwin-Wallace College

Indiana University

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Naval Aviation Supply Office

Texas Attorney General's Office

Texas State Governor's Office

Bickerstaff Heath Smiley Pollan Keever and McDaniel

Railroad Commission of Texas

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475823">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Myra McDaniel's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475824">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Myra McDaniel lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475825">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Myra McDaniel describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475826">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Myra McDaniel describes her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475827">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Myra McDaniel describes her mother's ancestry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475828">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Myra McDaniel describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475829">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Myra McDaniel describes her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475830">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Myra McDaniel describes her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475831">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Myra McDaniel describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475832">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Myra McDaniel remembers Jones Tabernacle A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475833">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Myra McDaniel describes her childhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475834">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Myra McDaniel remembers the impact of World War II</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475835">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Myra McDaniel remembers the Philadelphia High School for Girls in Pennsylvania</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475836">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Myra McDaniel recalls her parents' separation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475837">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Myra McDaniel remembers her favorite literature</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475838">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Myra McDaniel describes her aspirations in high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475839">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Myra McDaniel remembers the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475840">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Myra McDaniel recalls holiday celebrations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475841">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Myra McDaniel describes her work experiences after college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475842">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Myra McDaniel remembers meeting her husband, Reuben R. McDaniel</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475843">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Myra McDaniel remembers the Civil Rights Movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475844">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Myra McDaniel remembers the deaths of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475845">Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Myra McDaniel recalls working at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475846">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Myra McDaniel recalls her experiences at Baldwin-Wallace College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475847">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Myra McDaniel recalls civil rights activism at Baldwin-Wallace College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475848">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Myra McDaniel describe her husband's 4-F draft status</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475849">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Myra McDaniel recalls moving to Bloomington, Indiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475850">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Myra McDaniel remembers the University of Texas Law School in Austin</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475851">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Myra McDaniel recalls the lack of high profile female lawyers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475852">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Myra McDaniel remembers being hired by the Texas attorney general</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475853">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Myra McDaniel recalls her work for the tax division of the Texas attorney general's office</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475854">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Myra McDaniel describes her cases for the Texas attorney general's office</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475855">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Myra McDaniel describes her work as general counsel to corporations in Texas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475856">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Myra McDaniel recalls her appointment as secretary of state in Texas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475857">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Myra McDaniel recalls her work as secretary of state in Texas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475858">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Myra McDaniel recalls meeting United States presidents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475859">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Myra McDaniel describes her travels abroad, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475860">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Myra McDaniel describes her travels abroad, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475861">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Myra McDaniel recalls her managing partnership of Bickerstaff, Heath, Smiley, Pollan, Keever and McDaniel</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475862">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Myra McDaniel remembers defending the City of Austin</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475863">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Myra McDaniel describes her non-equity partnership at Bickerstaff, Heath, Smiley, Pollan, Keever and McDaniel</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475864">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Myra McDaniel shares her advice to young lawyers, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475865">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Myra McDaniel shares her advice to young lawyers, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475866">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Myra McDaniel remembers the attacks of September 11, 2001</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475867">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Myra McDaniel talks about Hurricane Katrina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475868">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Myra McDaniel describes her children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475869">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Myra McDaniel reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475870">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Myra McDaniel describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475871">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Myra McDaniel describes her role at St. James Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475872">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Myra McDaniel narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

2$2

DATitle
Myra McDaniel recalls civil rights activism at Baldwin-Wallace College
Myra McDaniel recalls her appointment as secretary of state in Texas
Transcript
I'd also not lived in any small towns in the Midwest, which was very interesting indeed. In Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] people thought of me being very moderate, perhaps close to being the stodgy side of the world. I found out when I got to a small town in Ohio that I was kind of exotic (laughter). They thought of me as being very liberal indeed. You asked earlier about things dealing with the Civil Rights Movement. One of the things that happened while we were at Baldwin-Wallace [Baldwin-Wallace College; Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio] was there was a group of white couples who had got together who wanted to try to better understand the Civil Rights Movement and how African Americans felt about what was going on and all those things, and so they invited us to come, they met--I don't know whether they met every other week or once a month or whatever and they would have you come and discuss various things, so that was--it was very interesting, because you would find yourself, for example, defending the Black Panthers [Black Panther Party] who had just done something that at the moment you thought was pretty far out, on the edge, and trying to explain to someone else how people got to the point that they felt that way, because this was after the Black Panthers had left their beginning roots and gone out. The folks in Los Angeles [California] were just, you know, doing the kind of things that some of us who were African American, felt were kind of on the edge, trying to describe to someone else the feelings that they had as we never told them whether we agreed or disagreed with them. What we did was say, you know, "Well, this is how somebody gets to that point." And eventually, of course, we just held up our hands, said, "Gee, we've had all the fun we can stand, we don't wanna come back anymore," and they're like, "Well, you know, that keeps happening to us, you know, we have couples come in, and they'll come for a couple of months or so." And you think, "You just don't know how intense this gets to be for us. I understand that for you it's just a conversation, but for us to have somebody throwing questions at you for an entire evening is not a very relaxing evening as far as we're concerned." And so that was a very interesting part of the Civil Rights Movement that I don't know that many people know about, but part of what happened, even if you were not actively engaged in the movement in terms of marching and being part of SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] and all those good things and down there when Maynard Jackson just raising Cain, wherever you were, you were indeed representing all of the ideas that people were milling about in their minds, and so you were always being questioned by Anglos as to why this was happening, what do you think about that, what's going on there? So you were never really not part of the movement even if you were not actively marching in the streets along with Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.], you were still doing your little part out there wherever you happened to be.$$All right. So how long did you stay at the school?$$We were there, I guess, about four years.$$So what year did you get there?$$Sixty-five [1965], 1965. We left in 1969 and went to Bloomington, Indiana, where my husband [HistoryMaker Reuben R. McDaniel] started working on his doctor's degree--$$I asked you about (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) at the university [Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana].$$On his doctor's?$$Um-hm.$And that November, Mark White, who had been attorney general when I left the attorney general's office, was elected governor, and he had someone call to ask if I would be willing to be general counsel to the governor. It is very difficult to tell a governor no. You can say, "Well, you know, I'm--" et cetera, et cetera, but, you know, so in any event, I came back, I did that. That started in January of '83 [1983], and by June--and I told him when I did that that I wasn't gonna stay forever, but so I did that, and by June of '84 [1984] Bickerstaff Heath [Bickerstaff Heath Smiley Pollan Keever and McDaniel; Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP, Austin, Texas], the law firm I'm with now, was looking for someone to come at-trial attorney to come and work with them. I had worked with many of the lawyers who were here, it was a relatively small firm, and we had been in attorney general's office together and knew each other well, so they said, "Why don't you come do this?" I said, "Great," I said goodbye to the governor (laughter), got to make the client who had a telephone company. Long-distance type companies were just starting up then. AT&T [American Telephone and Telegraph Company; AT&T Inc.] had broken apart, so there were all kinds of companies down there, and so he went down and we looked at his switch, and he told them he would teach me all these words, dealing with that business, and the governor called and said, "Well, I think you should be secretary of state," and I had heard a rumor that I was on the list, and I had told his appointment secretary, "Dwayne [ph.], you know, just take me off the list, I know a lot of people who want to do this, I don't have any interest in doing this, I just got a new job started." You know, one of the things the people at the law firm said to me, you know, "If you're going to plan do a political career--" you know, then, like, "No, no, I have no further political ambition, I'd be happy to go back to the practice of law, it seems like a good plan." So the governor then called, and we sat and we chatted, and I told him well you know, "I just started, I got a new client," and all that, and he said, "Well, do I need to talk to your partners?" et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, so and eventually once again, I was persuaded that I needed to drop what I was doing and be of service to the community, the larger community, and so I was secretary of state.