Friends, former students remember life and legacy of Thelma Parks

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Thelma Parks died Wednesday morning at 96 years old.

She served the Oklahoma City Public School District for 54 years and is well known for her civil rights activism.

A life well-lived.

“She was a mentor, she trained young people. Particularly young girls,” said friend and historian Bruce Fisher.

Recipient of the Oklahoma City NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, Thelma Parks was committed to bettering education.

Working the majority of her young adult life as a teacher, principal, and guidance counselor in Oklahoma City, before serving 22 years on the school board.

“She served as an elected member of the school board longer than any African American ever served before and probably will ever serve.”

The Thelma Parks Elementary School bearing her name. However, her impact lives on well outside those walls.

As an advocate for civil rights, she provided support to people like Marilyn Luper Hildreth, who- at just 10 years old- was arrested for participating in the pivotal sit-ins.

“Although she didn`t go in and sit with us, she participated in other ways. Like through her donations, through her prayers, through her food,” Hildreth told News 4.

The Metro Community mourning the loss of the longtime champion, but grateful for all that she did.

“Rarely was there anything happening in Oklahoma City, Northeast Oklahoma City that she didn`t know about or that she wasn`t a part of,” said Fisher.

“We were really fortunate to have Thelma Parks in our community. I was very fortunate to have her as my teacher,” said Hildreth.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.


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