Oklahoma State University renames 2 buildings after civil rights pioneer

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Nancy Randolph Davis photographed in 2007. (Photo provided by Oklahoma State University)

STILLWATER, Okla. (NewsNation Now) — Oklahoma State University has renamed two buildings after civil rights pioneer Nancy Randolph Davis, who was the school’s first Black student.

The university Board of Regents approved the renaming of two human sciences buildings on its Stillwater campus on Friday.

“This tangible action further elevates OSU’s stature as a national leader and a role model for our commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion,” Dr. Jason Kirksey, vice president for institutional diversity and chief diversity officer, said in a statement. “While there is certainly more work to do, it is important to recognize and have a sense of pride in the momentous and transformative actions that continue occurring at the university.”

Nancy Randolph Davis was the first African American student to attend then-Oklahoma A&M College in 1949. She completed her bachelor’s degree from Langston University in 1948 before pursuing a master’s degree in what was then called home economics at Oklahoma A&M College.

Davis later taught home economics in Oklahoma high schools for more than 40 years, the university said in its press release.

She died in 2015 at age 88.

“But stories of her passion, dedication and commitment to public education live on. Davis influenced thousands of students and their families and inspired others to fight through adversity to pursue their dreams,” the university said. “She also did not shy away from supporting social changes in Oklahoma.”

Davis was a civil rights advocate throughout her life, and she worked as an adviser to the Oklahoma City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council.

University officials told NewsNation affiliate KFOR that the two buildings renamed after Davis are not the same ones that were stripped of former Oklahoma Gov. William Murray’s name.

The Board of Regents voted in June to remove Murray’s name from two buildings after many students and faculty members called for action. Murray, the state’s ninth governor from 1931 to 1935, supported racist policies, including segregation and Jim Crow laws.

NewsNation affiliate KFOR contributed to this report.

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