Nancy Randolph Davis
In 1949, Nancy Randolph Davis became the first African-American enrollee at what was then Oklahoma A&M College. She had previously received her bachelor’s degree in home economics from Langston University in 1948 and began her teaching career the same year at Dunjee High School in Spencer, Oklahoma.
According to Davis, she received encouragement to enroll at OSU from the U.S. Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision to allow Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher to enter the University of Oklahoma School of Law. She initially was required to sit outside the classroom in the hallway, but after making the second highest score on a test, her white classmates complained to the professor and she joined the other students in the classroom.
Davis attended OSU during the summers and received her master’s degree in home economics (now Human Sciences) in 1952.
Davis retired from Oklahoma’s Public Education System in 1991 after 43 years of service, 20 years at Dunjee High School and 23 years at Star Spencer High School. She influenced the lives of thousands of students she taught over the years.
Davis was also active in the Oklahoma City N.A.A.C.P. Youth Council, a member of the Oklahoma Retired Teachers Association, Langston University Alumni Association, OSU Alumni Association and the OSU Black Alumni Association.
In 1999, Davis was honored with the OSU Distinguished Alumni Award, and OSU’s Davis Hall in residential life was named in her honor in 2001. Each February, OSU celebrates “Nancy Randolph Davis Day” at both the OSU-Stillwater and OSU-OKC campuses. She was also the recipient of the OSU College of Education and Human Sciences’ Enhancing Human Lives Award and was inducted into OSU’s Greek Hall of Fame in 2012 and was posthumously inducted to the OSU Hall of Fame in 2018.
Davis has also been recognized and honored multiple times by the state of Oklahoma. In 1991, Governor David Walters designated May 31 as “Nancy Randolph Davis Day,” and she was the recipient of the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Davis was also inducted by the Ntu Art Association into the Oklahoma Afro American Hall of Fame. In 2015, she was inducted posthumously into the Oklahoma African-American Educators Hall of Fame.
Davis passed away March 23, 2015. She was married to the late longtime educator, Fred C. Davis. She was the mother of Dr. Nancy L. Davis of Oklahoma City and Calvin O. Davis, Esq., of Lubbock, Texas, and the stepmother of Freddye M. Davis of Kansas City. She also had two grandchildren.
On January 31, 2019, Oklahoma State University dedicated a lifesize sculpture of Nancy Randolph Davis. The sculpture is located in the courtyard of the building now named in her honor.