Farewell to Black History Month

March 1, 2012 | By Professor Cheryl Wattley

As we enter March, having closed out February and with it the celebration of Black History Month, I am moved to write to acknowledge the work and dedication of the University of Oklahoma College of Law students who gave of their free time to practice and perform the play “I’ll Do It.” The play, which commemorates the struggle of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher’s fight to break down segregation to enter the OU law school, was performed before two audiences.  The play was first performed on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Oklahoma Judicial Center.  That following Sunday, on Feb. 26, the students traveled to Langston, the only historically black college in Oklahoma. 

These students gave up evenings to practice.  They gave up a Sunday to perform.  There was no grade to be given; no course credit to be earned.  The students gave this time so that they might send a very personal message:  it is important to remember, we cannot forget.  They know that the lessons of history cannot be buried.  The students participating in the play realize that we must remember that in our state, one segment of our society was once openly and blatantly oppressed because of the color of their skin.  

But, as they perform, they are celebrating not just Ada Lois’ courage, but the determination and bravery of all who fight oppression.  They are applauding the thousand OU students who braved the cold to demonstrate and burn the 14th Amendment to send the ashes to President Truman.  They are recognizing the support given by Dr. George Lynn Cross, a man caught between his personal principles and his legal obligations.  

And, while they acknowledge the historic roles of the persons of that time, they are also paying homage to the debt that they, that each one of us, owe to those persons who fought for equality, dignity, and opportunity for all of us.  They are recognizing that each of us stands on the shoulders of those who have come before us.  

So, as we close out Black History Month, let us salute these students for their desire to participate in this celebration; let us encourage them for their insight in recognizing the obligation that we share; and let us thank them for reminding us of those things that are important.  

Thank you, Nathan Williamson, Reonna Green, Courtney Hilliard, Jared Gaither, Buck Cason, Jennifer Clewis, Bianca Bryant, Nicholas Negtich, Roy Brown, Damilola Sule, Raif Taylor,  Kelly Ude, Shandela Atkinson, Aaron Morrison, Anna Imose, and Megan Collier for representing OU Law and Ada Lois so well.

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