The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 16, 2014

Exhibit chronicles state’s civil rights struggles

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Bruce Fisher serves as director of special projects for the Oklahoma Historical Society and was curator of the exhibit. His mother was pregnant with him during her last months in law school. He retires at months end.

Fisher’s law school classroom seat was in the back, chained off from the white students under a sign that read, “colored.” She couldn’t live in Norman or stay here after sundown.

“Dad worked at Tinker Field and he would drop her off early in the morning and pick her up at night or she would stay with friends in Oklahoma City,” Fisher said. 

Fisher said despite its unjust policies his mother loved OU. Gov. David Walters appointed her to the OU Board of Regents. 

“In our family we say she went from the colored chair to the Regents chair,” Bruce Fisher said.

———

The exhibit includes historic signs and artifacts from African American barber and beauty shops in the Deep Deuce area of Oklahoma City. A projector was saved and restored from the old Jewel Theatre on NE 4th. The Walker Hardware sign from the store on NE 2nd hangs nearby. The lunch counter where students staged a sit-in in downtown Oklahoma City is recreated.

The beauty and barber shops were significant in that women wanted to imitate the European standards of beauty. It also opened new doors of employment.

“After slavery ended the only professions Black women could have were teachers or domestic workers,” Bruce Fisher said. “It gave Black women a chance to go from domestic worker to entrepreneur.”

The exhibit looks at the dozens of historically Black towns in Oklahoma. A darker side details lynchings, race riots and attempts at racial reconciliation. Fisher told the story of watching some youngsters staring at the side-by-side water fountains in the exhibit. One was marked white and the other marked colored.

“They wanted to know what color the water was supposed to be,” he said. “They just had no idea what those signs meant.”

Andy Rieger

editor@normantranscript.com

366-3543

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Change some lines

    Editor, The Transcript: Looking at how our elected Republican friends are reacting to the refugee children crossing the border and now being housed in Lawton, I have a suggestion. Let’s edit the Christian Bible in several places to reflect ...

    July 21, 2014

  • New health care system demonized

    To the Editor: In October 2013, soon after we were asked to take over management responsibilities at our family business, we were visited by the company’s health insurance agent. She explained that a decision needed to be made regarding ...

    July 21, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • The longer the wait, the higher the cost

    Editor, The Transcript: Thanks for the great article of July 3 on the Norman chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby group that recently went to D.C. as citizen lobbyists, working to get a revenue-neutral carbon pollution fee, refunded in ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014