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Mary Randolph-Davis

Nancy Randolph Davis was a pioneer in Oklahoma higher education and the civil rights movement. In 1949, she became the first African American student admitted to what was then Oklahoma A&M College, now Oklahoma State University. She earned a master’s degree in home economics from OSU in 1952.

Davis, a granddaughter of slaves and a native of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, graduated from Sapulpa’s Booker T. Washington High School in 1944 and received a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Langston University in 1948.

She began teaching home economics at Dunjee School in Spencer, Oklahoma. After one year, she applied to Oklahoma A&M to pursue graduate studies. Once admitted, she was not allowed to sit in the classroom with her white classmates. Her designated seat was in the hallway. After she made the second highest score on a test, her classmates insisted that the faculty allow Davis to join them in the classroom.

Davis taught at Dunjee School for 20 years. During that time, she was active in Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council, assisting Dunjee history teacher and civil rights leader Clara Luper with the Oklahoma City sit-in movement. As court-mandated desegregation decisions became prevalent, she transferred in 1968 to Star Spencer High School, where she taught home economics and child care for 23 years. When Davis retired after 43 years of teaching in 1991, Gov. David Walters issued a proclamation naming May 31 “Nancy Randolph Davis Day” in Oklahoma.

She was a member of the Oklahoma Retired Teachers Association, Langston University Alumni Association, OSU Alumni Association, OSU Black Alumni Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Greater Oklahoma City Urban League and Amigos Club.

Davis was recognized as an OSU Distinguished Alumnus in 1999, and, in 2001, OSU named a residence hall in her honor. In 2009, she received OSU’s College of Human Sciences’ first Enhancing Human Lives Award. She has been inducted into OSU’s Greek Hall of Fame, Diversity Hall of Fame and Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2019, OSU erected a life-sized statue of Davis on the university’s campus. In 2021, the OSU College of Education and Human Sciences named two buildings in her honor. In addition, three annual university scholarships bear her name.

She received the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, was inducted into Ntu Art Association’s African American Hall of Fame and was posthumously inducted in the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame. In 2018, a section of I-35 near the Stillwater exit was named the Nancy Randolph Davis Memorial Highway.

Davis, who died March 23, 2015, was married to longtime educator Fred C. Davis. She was the mother of Dr. Nancy L. Davis, Oklahoma City, and Calvin O. Davis, Esq., Lubbock, Texas, and stepmother to retired educator Freddye M. Davis, Kansas City, Kansas. Grandchildren include Toren Samuel Jackson-Davis and Teklyn Sarahan Jackson-Davis.

Nancy Randolph-Davis was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2022.

Last Modified on Jan 24, 2024
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