Sunday, March 03, 2013

Some Extraordinary Oklahoma Black Women

I took a sabbatical but I am back. Here are some items that I posted last month on my Twitter account  --  @jeanwarner  -  during Black History Month. They are all remarkable Oklahoma women who happen to be black. Tell me who I overlooked!
Interesting reading: Oklahoma City African-American Discovery guide by Kendrick Moore

In 2001, State of Oklahoma officially apologizes for 1921 Tulsa race riot; endorses reparations for the riot victims.

In 1980, President Ronald Reagan appointed Ms. Lennie Tolliver to be Director of the U.S. Commission on Aging.

Freddye Williams served on OK City Board of Education 1975-1979, OK House of Reps 1981-1990

1958 - Clara Luper and students participate in the first lunch counter sit-ins at Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City.

Valree Fletcher Wynn. 1st black to teach at Lawton High School and at Cameron University.

In 1970, Coretta Banks becomes the first African American to participate in the Miss Oklahoma Beauty Pageant.

Betty Hopkins Mason, 1928- Tulsan, 1st black & 1st woman Supt of OK City Public Schools, 1992-95

Book: Journey Toward Hope: A History of Blacks in Oklahoma by Jimmie Lewis Franklin

Mazola McKerson. Owner Gourmet Restaurant, Ardmore. 1st black/woman elected to City Council & Mayor...

Willa Johnson-1st black woman elected 2 OK City Council, Ward 7; now OK County Commissioner. See

1970, Coretta Banks becomes first black to participate in the Miss Oklahoma Beauty pageant.

Leona Mitchell, 1949- . Renowned African-American and Chickasaw operatic soprano. OCU graduate.

Marie Rogers Gray (1900-1999). A life-long educator, she founded schools in Fay, Geary, & Eudora, Oklahoma.

Maxine Horner- With Vicki Miles-LaGrage,1st Black woman elected to OK Senate (1987). Helped found OK Jazz Hall of Fame

Anita Hill. Law professor's testimony addressed sexual harassment at Clarence Thomas hearing

Judith Horton, told she couldn't use Guthrie's white library, founded 1st black library, Excelsior Library, in 1908.

In 1982, Democrat Shirley Darrell in Oklahoma County became the first black elected as a county commissioner.

Rubye Hibler Hall 1912-2003 1st black appointed to OK State Regents for Higher Education (1974-80)

Okie Vicki Miles-LaGrange is Chief US District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma

Dorothy Moses DeWitty, 1926-2012, 1st black woman principal of Tulsa school & Tulsa City Council.

Zelia Page Breaux 1880-1956 Musician/educator, influenced Charlie Christian. Co-owned Aldridge Theater

Juanita Kidd Stout, 1919-1998, 1st black woman admitted to OK Bar, served on PA Supreme Court

Cleora Butler, 1901-1985, famed Tulsa caterer/restaurateur. Author "Cleora’s Kitchens"

Emma Jones-Freeman won lawsuit against OK City School Board resulting in equal pay for teachers regardless of race

Check out this lovely interview with Rosa Parks on the Academy of Achievement…

Nancy Randolph-Davis educator, activist, 1st black student to enroll at OK State University

Hannah Diggs Atkins (1923-2010) 1st black woman in OK House of Reps. OK Secty of State, more:

Opaline Deveraux Wadkins 1912-2000 health activist helped desegregate nursing schools in Oklahoma

Evelyn LaRue Pittman, 1910-1992, music teacher, choral conductor, composer of music drawn from black history

Beulah Jacobs Ponder was 1st black to work in Office of Governor; receptionist for Henry Bellman

Lena Lowery Sawner, 1874-1949, principal of segregated Douglass HS in OKC, one of Oklahoma's first black activists.

Okie Bessie Coleman (1892-1926) was the world's 1st licensed black aviator. Read about her at

Okie educator Clara Luper (1923-2011) was pioneer in American Civil Rights Movement. Watch video

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