Legends & Legacies Honorees
Marilyn Luper Hildreth
Marilyn Luper Hildreth, a Living Legend, has been a part of the Civil Rights Movement all of her life. Being the daughter of Clara Luper, the Godmother of Oklahoma Civil Rights, helped to provide a road map for her active involvement. She would tell you that if she could rewrite her life’s story, it would have the same storylines. Having Clara Luper as her mom was the best thing that ever happened to her!
Hildreth became active in the formal setting of the NAACP Youth Council. Traveling with her mom to many Civil Rights events gave her the opportunity to witness history in living color.
A 1964 graduate of Douglass High School and she received her degree from Langston University, her mom’s alma mater. Her career training was in the Allstate Insurance business where she was hired as the African American female sales person in Oklahoma. She later had her own Allstate Insurance Agency excelling in every area.
Hildreth knew the importance of equal rights and without hesitation would engage herself in discussion and/or protest to help make a positive change like her mother. Attending the March on Washington, D. C. on August 28, 1963 and hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his I Have A Dream speech added more fire and purpose to Marilyn’s life.
Under her mother’s leadership, Hildreth is famous for being one of the original thirteen children who led the first sit-in that took place at Oklahoma City Katz Drug Store on August 19, 1958. She made the motion at the NAACP Youth Council meeting for going to Katz and sit until they were served. That was a historical moment. It was one of the first sit-in events that became a model for all other sit-ins that were held in this nation.
She continues today to follow in her mother’s footsteps by delivering inspirational speeches to many school children, civic groups, and churches. She reminds them that we must continue to fight for equality for all people, regardless of race, creed or color. Her mother’s work cannot be in vain and the struggles continues.
She is active on three committees to carry on her mother’s legacy: The Clara Luper Legacy Committee, The Freedom Center Committee, and the Clara Luper Civil Rights Plaza Committee. Hildreth is the mother of three children and the grandmother of three. She is an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Fifth Street Baptist Church, Oklahoma City.
Hildreth has often stated that if we don’t continue to tell the Civil Rights story, we may forget and return to those segregated days and ways. We must continue to move forward and enjoy all the rights that our U. S. Constitution guarantees us as citizens of these United States!
James Osby Goodwin
James Osby Goodwin is an icon. He is the Publisher and Owner of Tulsa’s oldest and only black newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle. He is also an accomplished attorney. The newspaper, started by Jim’s father, E.L. Goodwin, who purchased the rights to the Tulsa Star in 1936 and renamed it, the Oklahoma Eagle. The Tulsa Star, which was the city’s first black newspaper, was one of the many businesses destroyed in the chaos of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921. The newspaper
has been family owned since the beginning and remains a strong presence in North Tulsa.
He is an advocate for the city’s reconstruction of the Greenwood District, for its history both before and after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. It’s part of his family’s story, and he is devoted to restoring and revitalizing Greenwood while carving out the massacre’s proper place among not only Tulsa’s but also America’s, history.
Goodwin is one of eight siblings who grew up on a 150-acre farm, purchased by his father, in the community of Alsuma. The pre-statehood community between Tulsa and Broken Arrow, where the railroad tracks, like most areas during that time, separated blacks and whites.
After he finished high school, he attended Notre Dame and graduated in 1961. From there he went straight to law school at the University of Tulsa, where he graduated in 1965. Goodwin has been practicing law for 55 years.
Senator Connie Johnson (retired) served for 33-years in the Oklahoma State Senate, representing Oklahoma City’s predominantly African American “Eastside,” where, as a Senate researcher and Senator, she focused on health/mental health/ human services issues that disproportionately affect the economic and social well-being of the poor, minorities, women, children, and people with disabilities.
As the original author of legislation legalizing medical cannabis, Senator Johnson’s impact on Oklahoma’s economy is unparalleled. Johnson made history as Oklahoma’s first woman and African American US Senate nominee. Senator Johnson served on the full Senate Appropriations Committee and the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. She effectively worked across the aisle on issues affecting people with disabilities, criminal justice reform and cannabis policy reform.
Johnson was the 2014 Oklahoma Democratic Party Veteran’s Committee Legislator of the Year, and served as vice chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party from 2015-2017. She chaired the Oklahoma Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty, where she led an effective statewide campaign against State Question 776, which put the death penalty in the Oklahoma Constitution.
Rozia Mckinney- Foster
Rozia McKinney-Foster is an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma where she is a prosecutor of Federal Major Crimes. She was born in the historic Boley, Oklahoma and reared in Oklahoma City’s historic Edwards Addition. She attributes much of her preparation for success to her early education at Edwards Elementary and Kennedy Jr. High schools and training at Tabitha Baptist Church. Rozia’s mother, Henry Mae (Pendleton) McKinney died when Rozia was 14 years old, but in 14-years, her mother instilled in her a strong work ethic and deep salt of the earth practical and Godly wisdom.
McKinney-Foster is a 1973 graduate of the historic Frederick Douglass High School, a 1977 cum laude graduate of Princeton University, and a 1980 graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She served with distinction as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the Western District of Oklahoma when terrorists bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building on April 19, 1995 and she was serving as Acting United States Attorney. McKinney-Foster has been honored in Washington D.C. for her outstanding work as a prosecutor.
A community activist and servant leader, she is a founding member of the Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers, (Past President), the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, and the Oklahoma Chapter of NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives) (Chaplain). She is on the Executive Board for Oklahoma City University School of Law.
McKinney-Foster is an Adult Sunday School teacher and Director of Women’s Ministries for Progressive Baptist Church where her husband, Reverend Larry Foster, Sr., is the Pastor. She is active with the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) on the State, Regional, and National levels.
Pastors Theodis & Felicia Manning
Theodis Manning Sr. is a native of El Dorado, Arkansas. In May 1981, Manning came to Oklahoma City via the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Co-operative Education Program and worked two separate semesters at Tinker AFB. In 1983, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he also had a very successful 4-year football career. Subsequent to graduation and two terms on the University’s Co-operative Education Program while still in college, he was hired as a permanent employee by Tinker Air Force Base in June 1983, where he worked for 12 years until his early retirement in 1993 as a Program Manager for the Air Force One Presidential fleet, KC-10 Air Refuel Tanker and the C-9 aircraft.
In 1994, Manning founded Nationwide Mortgage Company of America where he served as President and CEO until turning full-time Pastor in 2006. In April 2004, he and Felicia, his wife of 23 years, established and founded Divine Wisdom Worship Center Church in Midwest City, Oklahoma where he currently serves as Senior Pastor. Pastor Manning also founded and currently serves as director of five other very active community faith based organizations including:
TASK “Teaching And Saving Kids” At-Risk Youth and Young Adult Program (founded March 2007)
Another Chance Re-Entry and Aftercare Program: (founded October 2005)
Another Chance Recovery Support program (founded May 2001)
Trinity House Ministries (founded October 2005)
Another Chance Counseling Agency “ACCA” (founded September 2013
Pastor Manning is a member of the Citizens for Juvenile Justice Board (Oklahoma County Juvenile Detention Center) and the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Reform Board.
Mary Alexander Johnson
Mary Alexander Johnson also affectionately known as “The Fox” is one of Oklahoma’s great treasures because she has positively touched the lives of countless young, old, vulnerable, and bold people in the state of Oklahoma and beyond. Although her roots are from Washington, D.C. and Laurens, South Carolina most of her adult life has be grounded in Ardmore, Oklahoma where she constantly keeps her radar screen beaming to detect how she can best be of service to others. Perhaps, this is why she is so eloquently known as “The Fox” because she is a warrior for all issues that defy the inalienable rights of others.
Johnson received a B.S. Degree from Allen University, Columbia, S.C, a Master’s Degree in Education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, O.K; she is also certified as a Reading Specialist and Secondary Administration and has graduate credits from Howard University in Washington D.C and the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.
“The Fox” has been on the Oklahoma scene since the mid 70’s. Ironically, her first teaching experience began in the Fox Public Schools, in Fox Oklahoma where she taught elementary and high school social studies. She was also an Instructor in psychology and sociology and Academic Minority Counselor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma.
Johnson is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and a committed member of the Mount Zion Baptist Church, Ardmore, OK. Johnson has been recognized by the citizens of Ardmore and the State of Oklahoma to include: A Living Legend in Oklahoma, Inducted into the African American Teachers’ Hall of Fame, Coordinator of the Miss Black Oklahoma Pageant and The Presidents Distinguish Service Award Langston University, Langston, Oklahoma
Most recently she initiated the Langston University Nursing Program to The University Center of Southern Oklahoma and she teaches in the Ardmore City School System.
Pastor Ronald Dean Scott, Sr.
Pastor Ronald D. Scott, Sr. was born in Geary, Oklahoma and raised in Oklahoma City. He worked at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company and retired after 26 years.
In 1990, God gave Pastor Ron a vision to start a ministry to reach out to people suffering from addictions. His humble beginning started with a support group in 1991 under a tree, which later had use of a room at Mary Mahoney Health Center in Spencer, Oklahoma. This support group began what is now known as Serenity Outreach Ministries. Serenity was incorporated by the State of Oklahoma in 1994 and was founded by Pastors Ronald D. and First Lady Wilma J. Scott. They have been pastoring 25 years. Pastor Ron has 32 years of recovery.
The mission of Serenity Outreach is to reach hurting people who are struggling with problems of addiction, compulsions, and co-dependencies in and outside the church. Serenity Outreach believes that addiction is a physical, mental and spiritual disease of the body that affects every area of life. It is unique in its purpose, specializing in providing a two-way bridge between the traditional 12-step Support Group and the Church. Pastor Scott’s knowledge of recovery is immeasurable and he’s been given the privilege of speaking and teaching throughout the State of Oklahoma on Substance Abuse.
He is the Co-Founder & CEO of the Serenity Outreach Recovery Community and provides many Recovery Support Services such as: Sober Living Apartment Complexes which provides Emergency Shelter and housing for Veterans seeking recovery from substance abuse. Recovery Group Meetings include: Overcomers 12-Steps, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous. Counseling Services include: Substance Abuse Counseling, Family, and Financial Counseling.
Pastor Ronald Scott is recognized as a leader in the field of recovery.
First Lady Pastor Wilma J. Scott
Pastor Wilma Scott was born in Boynton, Oklahoma on February 28, 1953 and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is a graduate of St. John’s School of Nursing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1996, she was licensed and ordained to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor Wilma has 35 years of recovery.
God gave Pastor Scott a heart for hurting women looking to be made whole through the power of God. With that gift, she became Founder and Director of Women Following Jesus Christ (W.F. J.C.), Daughters of God Ministry and the Healing Hearts Youth Center (H.H.Y.C.), a youth ministry that serves as a support group for hurting youth.
She serves as Co-Founder & President of the Executive Board of Directors for the Serenity Outreach Recovery Community. In 2008, she co-founded Serenity Outreach Recovery Community’s first Women’s Sober Living Center called, The Unlimited House.
She is a frequent and well-known conference speaker. Pastor Wilma Scott continues to be dedicated and humble servant of God who loves the
Walter J. Edwards
Walter J. Edwards was one of Oklahoma City’s most prominent African American entrepreneurs, real estate developer, and philanthropist. In 1907, his father, a tenant farmer in Mississippi left and settled on a farm of his own near Wellston, Oklahoma. 12
A few years later, at age 19, Walter Edwards moved to Oklahoma City and got a job as a laborer in a junkyard at nine dollars a week. Within fifteen years, he owned a baggage hauling company, a carpet business, an iron foundry, and two drive-in gasoline stations. He is said to have built one of the first drive-in filling stations in Oklahoma City.
Losing everything in the Crash of 1929, he recouped his fortune by selling scrap iron via Edwards Scrap Iron and Junkyard, later called American Iron and Metal. His enterprises, which expanded to include a taxi line, an auto repair shop and pharmacies, employed hundreds of persons.
As his business grew, his lack of formal education became more and more of a handicap because he never went beyond the fifth grade. In 1930, he met Frances Gilliam Waldrop. Her training qualified her to help Edwards straighten out his books and put his salvage yard on a businesslike basis. That same year, Edwards married Frances Gilliam Waldrop.
In 1937, Edwards Real Estate Investment Company purchased thirty-three acres in northeast Oklahoma City and had it platted by C.T. Hassman, a white resident of Tuttle, to skirt the segregation ordinance. There the Edwards sold to black homeowners, effectively ending residential segregation. In 1939, Edwards persuaded the Federal Housing Authority to approve mortgage loans for black persons, an unheard-of practice. It was the first FHA-insured housing project ever undertaken by Negroes for Negroes.
The Edwards donated land for a public park and elementary school, built Edwards Memorial Hospital, and created a nearby shopping center. What they accomplished helped make Oklahoma City a better place for people to live, not just for blacks, but for everyone.
Carl G. Holmes
Carl Holmes was one of the first twelve African Americans appointed to the Oklahoma City Fire Department in 1951, a class of carefully selected men by the Urban League and the NAACP to join the firefighters’ academy.
The city hired the men in exchange for the support of the black community and civil rights leaders in an upcoming bond election. However, this was not a time of celebration. As part of the Jim Crow era, it was in fact, a time of ostracism, racism and discrimination. Holmes and the other men were faced with profound challenges. Change was not easy. When Holmes and the other black firefighters were hired in 1951, there were no black firefighters in Oklahoma.
The “Original Twelve” pioneering black firefighters were James Coffey, Cecil Dixon, Herbert Ford, Melvin A. Franklin, Carl Holmes, Willard Jenkins, Algie Lawrence, Marvin O. Nelson, Edward K. Russell, Bob Summers, Charles Q. Wright and James H. Young.
At first, the black firefighters were segregated from their white counterparts. By 1959, black firefighters were serving in six integrated fire stations.
Carl Holmes rose through the ranks, overcoming hostility and gained the respect of peers and officers. At age 44, he was named deputy chief, making him second in command over 1200 personnel in the Oklahoma City Fire Department and the highest ranking position attained at the time by an African American. After 30 years as an active firefighter Holmes took issue with the training offered to blacks who gained access to the National Fire Academy, yet were seemingly bypassed for promotions. Seeing that change was not in the offing, upon retiring in 1981, Holmes founded the Executive Development Institute (EDI) to provide the necessary leadership skills for advancement.
Carl G. Holmes was known for mentoring thousands of black firefighters in leadership training from 1981 to 2017. He died November 24, 2017.
Lawrence Kuykendall was known as the Handless Wonder. He lost both his hands and arms, up to his elbows, in an accident at age 10. Despite this life altering event, Kuykendall excelled and achieved beyond imagination. He was born in Okeene, Oklahoma and raised on a farm in Anadarko.
It’s been said that people that knew him, remembered him for his athletic exploits rather than what they considered his handicap. He had a love for sports and conquered every sport he tackled. Despite his lack of hands, Kuykendall earned the position of Captain on his high school’s basketball and football
teams. He also played college sports at Langston University and went on to play basketball with the Marquis Haynes Harlem Magicians.
Kuykendall never allowed his handicap to define him, and refused to be pitied by others. He believed, according to his autobiography, that “with God’s help” in spite of the loss, he didn’t need physical hands to do God’s will. Kuykendall lived a life that knew no limits. He ultimately learned to use his arms so expertly, that he could do anything a person could do with hands.
In an effort to be independent and to prove himself to his parents and his friends, Kuykendall took on his first job as a newspaper carrier for the Anadarko Daily News at age 12. You could say this is where it all started. Kuykendall believed that there was no need to let a physical handicap interfere with normal activities or future ambitions, and he didn’t.
Besides being a newspaper carrier, Kuykendall was successful in all his job opportunities. He was employed at Fort Sill in the Drivers Instructional Education Section, as a Certified License Examiner for 16 years.
He was the owner-operator of a successfully run grocery store, that he started with $135.00. A store that he operated in Anadarko, Oklahoma from 1944-1960. He was also the Editor-in-Chief of the Lawton Community Guide, a local newspaper, serving folks in several states and abroad for seven years.
Several highlights of Kuykendall’s life included;
In 1935, at age seventeen, he made Ripley’s Believe It or Not column, as the Armless Basketball Star
In 1969, he was invited to Washington D.C., where he was recognized as the Most Outstanding Handicapped Person in the U.S.A.
He wrote and published his autobiography, The Handless Wonder Conquers the Impossible, in 1979.
Kuykendall credits God and hard work for his successes and urged others to use their talents to the fullest. Lawrence Kuykendall died May 6, 1988 in Lawton, OK. He was 68 years old. A man with no hands and no limits.