Late civil rights activist is first black woman honored with rotunda portrait

After more than a decade of planning, Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher will join black and white male leaders and a handful of women honored in paint next month in the state Capitol rotunda.

The late Chickasha native, who paved the way for desegregation in higher education in Oklahoma, will be the first black woman featured in a rotunda portrait.

“Not only did she as an African-American (make) a contribution to show the strength of us as African-Americans, but also to show the strength of the contribution of women to changes in our society, that they were absolutely at the front in making those changes,” said her son, Bruce Fisher.

HISTORY
The 11 a.m. unveiling June 19 on the fourth floor falls nearly 58 years to the day the University of Oklahoma finally allowed the 25-year-old Sipuel Fisher to enroll successfully in freshman law classes after a three-year fight that took her to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a result of the ruling in her favor, the university first began admitting black students to graduate programs not offered at Langston University. She died in 1995.

Last year, an advisory panel to the council on behalf of the Capitol Preservation Commission recommended Norman artist Mitsuno Reedy for the work. A committee decided the portrait should depict Sipuel Fisher returning triumphantly from Washington, D.C. “Emily Jerman

Emily Jerman

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