Genre: Biography + Autobiography
Sub-Genre: Cultural, Ethnic & Regional
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Author: Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher
Item Number (DPCI): 247-15-9456
A Matter of Black and White is the personal story of an Oklahoma woman whose fight to gain an education formed a crucial episode in the civil rights movement. Born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, of parents only one generation removed from slavery, Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher became the plaintiff in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that laid the foundation for the eventual desegregation of schools (and much else) in America. When Oklahoma gained statehood in 1907, the first bill passed by the legislature called for the segregation of the state's public schools and universities. No one successfully challenged segregation until 1946, when Ada Lois Sipuel, a recent graduate of all-black Langston University, applied for admission to the all-white University of Oklahoma law school. Because Oklahoma had no segregated law school for blacks, she argued, the state's official policy of "separate but equal" education was illusory. Her simple act of applying to a white law school touched off a fire storm of controversy. At its center was a fierce legal battle waged by NAACP lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall. Fisher's autobiography reflects much of the history of American blacks and whites and of their changing relationships through this century. It is also the history of family and community life in a small southern town during years of legal segregation, racial discrimination, and economic depression. The people of this remarkable family and community did more than endure in trying times - they triumphed.