In honor of Nancy Randolph Davis, the first African-American student to attend then-Oklahoma A&M College, a statue of the civil rights pioneer will be dedicated Thursday, Jan. 31, on the Stillwater campus. Davis overcame racial obstacles to pursue her master’s degree in 1949.
Burns Hargis, OSU president; Dr. Jason F. Kirksey, vice president for institutional diversity and OSU’s chief diversity officer; and Dr. Stephan Wilson, dean of the College of Human Sciences, will welcome guests at 1 p.m. at Jorns Hall in the Human Sciences building, 122 N. Monroe St. The Davis statue has been installed in the Human Sciences courtyard facing Monroe. Members of Davis’ family will be present.
“This statue makes a statement about who we were and where we came from, but more importantly, it says something about who we are and who we aspire to be,” said Kirksey. “The message this statue sends is profound, and it’s just part of the legacy to Mrs. Davis that exists on this campus.”
Davis earned a bachelor’s degree from Langston University in 1948 before enrolling at Oklahoma A&M, where she was required to sit in the hallway outside a classroom. Her fellow students complained until she was ultimately allowed a seat in the class. Davis earned a master’s degree in home economics from what is today the College of Human Sciences and taught home economics in Oklahoma high schools for 43 years.
She was active in the civil rights movement in the state including working as an adviser to the Oklahoma City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council. In 2008, she received the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission Lifetime Achievement Award.
Honors from her alma mater include the Enhancing Human Lives Award from the College of Human Sciences and the OSU Distinguished Alumni Award. She was inducted into the OSU Alumni Hall of Fame in 2018. Although she wasn’t allowed to live on campus as a student, OSU named a residence hall in her honor in 2001.
Davis was also recognized in 2018 by the state of Oklahoma, which named a three-mile stretch of Interstate 35 west of Stillwater the Nancy Randolph Davis Memorial Highway. She died in 2015 at the age of 88.