I have a confession to make: In 1946, my great-grandmother, Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, spearheaded the NAACP’s mission to challenge desegregation laws in the South when she sued The University of Oklahoma (OU) Board of Regents for denying her admission to OU Law based off of the color of her skin. Two years later, Ada Lois’ attorney, Thurgood Marshall, stood before the Supreme Court in Fisher v. Board of Regents under the consideration that she had been denied her 14th amendment rights in a trial that changed my family’s life forever.
Throughout the years, I’ve thought a lot about her sacrifice; sitting before a country that questioned her right to an education in a nationally recognized trial and entering class everyday walking past rows of white students to sit in a single seat with “Colored” written on it, all while attending school at hours that weren’t safe for people of color in the sun-down town of Norman, Oklahoma.
I’ve read book after book to get to know my great-grandmother, wondering if she can hear my cry for surviviors from where she is now— smiling down at the similarities in her life that I face changing rape culture present day. I haven’t sat before the Supreme Court, and I certainly don’t have a portrait of myself hanging in OU Law… yet. But I do have a fire within me, the same one that Ada Lois had burning within her in the name of change. I guess the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.
-For Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher
I am your legacy.