Little Known Black History Fact: Ada Sipuel Fisher

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  • Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher was a student from Chickasha, Oklahoma who was the first black student at University of Oklahoma. She was denied entry in 1946 because she was black. After teaming with Thurgood Marshall, she won the case and began classes in 1949. Her case was among those that set the precedent for Brown vs. Board of Education. Ada S. Fisher was married and pregnant at the time.

    Fisher graduated from Lincoln High school as valedictorian in 1941. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Langston University in 1945 and wished to attend law school.

    Although the students were open to her presence on campus,Fisher had the Jim Crow experience. Her chair in class said ‘colored’ and was roped off from the rest of the students. Some of the white students held compassion for her, sharing their materials so she could catch up to the curriculum. She had to eat in a chained-off guarded area of the cafeteria. Some of the white students would crawl under the chain and eat with her when possible.

    Sipuel vs. the Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma case and Fisher’s tuition were supported by countless small donations. Those donations served as Fisher’s motivation to handle and conquer the bigotry and discrimination.

    Ada Sipuel Fisher graduated in 1951 with a Master of Law degree from University of Oklahoma and began practicing law in her hometown of Chickasha a year later. In 1992, she was appointed to the Board of Regents at University of Oklahoma, which she felt completed a 45-year-cycle of progress.

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