There is a new, yet familiar face on the campus of Oklahoma State University. OSU just unveiled a statue of its first African-American graduate, Nancy Randolph Davis, which will now be a permanent reminder of all the accomplishments she achieved.
Her bronze gaze looks out over her alma mater from the College of Human Sciences, sharing some similar features with a current grad student here.
Teklyn Jackson-Davis says, “I have my granny’s nose, and even her cheekbones and her forehead. Honestly, I got those all from her.”
Jackson-Davis now has one more thing to share with her grandmother. Where Randolph Davis once got her Master's in home economics, Jackson-Davis is studying for her Master's in speech pathology.
“She always said that ‘if I can do it, you can do it’ to whoever it was,” Jackson-Davis remembers.
The road was not easy for the trailblazer. When she enrolled in what was then Oklahoma A&M in 1949, no one else on campus looked like her.
Jackson-Davis says, “She started by sitting in a little closet in the classroom away from the rest of the students, but it was after the first exam that they said that they wanted her to come, because she made the second highest grade.”
Randolph Davis went on to have a four-decade teaching career, and now has a stretch of I-35 and an OSU dormitory named after her. The statue is just the latest honor.
“She said ‘I did not set out to make history. I just wanted to get an education and serve my community,’” Jackson-Davis remembers.
Jackson-Davis knows she has big shoes to fill, but she is taking each step with her granny's words of encouragement in mind.
“It’s hard being a grad student,” she admits. “It’s hard being a student, like in general, so just walking by I say you know what? She says little old her can do it. I can do it.”
News 9 is part of a local initiative that brings all of our local media outlets together to give Oklahoma a United Voice in promoting a healthy dialogue on race. To see more stories, visit UnitedVoiceOK.org.
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