University City High School | St. Louis Public Radio

University City High School

Judy Gladney poses for a portrait at the University City High School auditorium on Oct. 10, 2019.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Before Judy Gladney was among the first black students to integrate University City High School, she and her family were the first black people to move into a gated community in the city called University Hills.

For Gladney, 67, being among the first was almost a family tradition. 

“We were a family of firsts," Gladney said. “My father was a physician. He broke down many barriers. He was the first (black) head of a department of medicine at St. Louis U. We were one of the first black families at Pilgrim Congregational Church. So it was a lifestyle for us to constantly be in diverse environments.”

Erica Vickers Cage Ellen Futterman Judy Gladney
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

University City, Missouri, is considered to be among the more diverse communities in a region still grappling with the stubborn legacy of segregation. But five decades ago, things were different in U. City, including at the local schools.

When Judy Gladney began attending University City High School in the '60s, she was one of its very first African American students, and found herself bridging two disparate worlds. So did Eric Vickers, Gladney’s future husband.

Years later, the two would send their children through the same school district, which is now largely nonwhite. As Gladney looked toward her 50th high school reunion this month, she joined St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske on Monday alongside her daughter Erica Vickers Cage and local journalist and storyteller Ellen Futterman.

Author Jason Reynolds was in conversation with former 'We Live Here' podcast co-host Kameel Stanley on April 26 at University City High School. | Heidi Drexler
Heidi Drexler

Jason Reynolds is a prominent poet and author of middle-grade and young adult novels. He’s a National Book Award finalist and the author of such books including “Ghost,” “Long Way Down,” and “When I Was The Greatest.”

Reynolds recently sat down for an onstage conversation with Kameel Stanley, the former co-host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “We Live Here” podcast.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 28, 2013 - The University City High School jazz program is best known for the generation of talented young musicians who graduated from there in the late 1980s. U. City High students pianist Peter Martin, trumpet player/vocalist Jeremy Davenport, bassist Chris Thomas, saxophonist Todd Williams and drummer David Berger recording an album (“Just In Time”) as the Todd Williams Quinter in 1987. And all went on to professional musical careers.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 21, 2013 - WASHINGTON – After an exciting weekend of touring Washington’s monuments, 26 students from University City High School were “electrified” Monday when they witnessed the inaugural ceremony and President Barack Obama’s address at the U.S. Capitol.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 15, 2013 - Last year, University City high school senior Abby Mutrux got to attend a Mitt Romney fundraiser in Indiana. Next week, she’ll be part of a student group in Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama’s second inaugural.

The second trip definitely is a better fit for her personal philosophy than the first.