OU’s third African-American professor donates artifacts from civil-rights career

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NORMAN, Okla. - We're continuing our United Voice mission - a community initiative to encourage honest and healthy dialogue about race relations in Oklahoma.

It's one that involves all local media organizations - including News 4.

There have been many headlines centered around race at the University of Oklahoma in recent years and this week is Civil Rights Week at the university.

They are also working to educate Sooners on a great professor and civil rights leader at the school.

In the University of Oklahoma's Western Histories Collections, you'll find thousands of stories - but a new one is bringing a new perspective. That story belongs to Dr. George Henderson.

"It's a story of struggle and overcoming and, of course, he's done that with dignity, grace and never lost his kindness," said Todd Fuller, Curator of the Western Histories Collections.

Dr. Henderson was the third African-American professor at OU. He was the first to own a home in Norman, and as he told us in 2018, it wasn't an easy move.

"Black people knew that Norman was not a place that you would stay beyond daylight," Henderson told News 4.

But he didn't let that, or even threats to his family, stop him.

"Published over 34 books, published dozens and dozens of journal articles," Fuller said.

Fuller is working to incorporate the voices of more African-American authors and scholars. He wanted Dr. Henderson to be the first contributor.

Henderson donated an entire collection, all evidence of his reach like his certificate as an inductee into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

His articles can also be found in journals, along with letters from other young African-American professors.

Those letters often asked him how he mustered the strength to keep up with the struggle.

He always wrote back.

"If he didn't stay with it, who was going to in his community?" Fuller said.

The hope is this collection will help continue that encouragement.

"See what unity looks like, see what being able to get along together looks like," said Fuller.

Right now, the collection is being processed. The hope is to have it available for students early next year.

United Voice mission statement: A coalition of Oklahoma’s media outlets, brought together in a united voice to promote a healthy dialogue on race.

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