Past Speakers

parkerWheeler Parker, Jr.

The Emmett Till Story

The History Speaks 2018 program featured civil rights and peace activist Wheeler Parker Jr. He spoke on Monday, February 19th at 7:00 pm in Oklahoma Christian University’s Hardeman Auditorium.

Born in Slaughter, Mississippi in 1939 – Wheeler Parker’s family relocated to Chicago in 1947 with the hope of providing better living conditions and a better education for their children.

Wheeler returned to Mississippi with his grandfather, Moses Wright during the summer 1955. Travelling with him was his 14 year old cousin Emmett Till. The events of that week changed his life forever. The incident at the store in Money; the night of terror when Emmett was taken from the home and murdered, and his return to Chicago alone and in constant fear for his own life, still causes him to tremble and weep. He always believed he would see Emmett again, not being able to accept that the horrific corpse returned to Chicago was Emmett, and he was able to cope by believing he was not dead.  The last living eyewitness (besides Till’s accuser), Wheeler is a survivor of this event – an event that sparked the civil rights movement – an event that Time Magazine said “Changed The World.” This event? The murder of Emmett Till.


Diane Nash

Oklahoma Christian University’s annual History Speaks event welcomes civil rights icons to share their experiences with our campus and community.

2017 History Speaks program featured civil rights and peace activist Diane Nash. 

A Chicago native who had never experienced segregation in public accommodations before moving to the South, Diane Nash went on to become one of the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement.

MLKNash’s involvement in the nonviolent movement began in 1959 while she was a student at Fisk University. In 1960 she became the chairperson of the student sit-in movement in Nashville, Tennessee—the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters—as well as one of the founding students of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. In 1961 she coordinated the Freedom Ride from Birmingham, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi, a story which was documented in the recent PBS American Experience film Freedom Riders.

History Speaks 2016

Oklahoma Christian University’s History Speaks 2016 event welcomed civil rights icons to share their experiences with our campus and community.

The History Speaks program featured Olympic Medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

Heroes of the 1968 Summer Olympic Games, Smith and Carlos’ decision to silently speak out against injustice created an image that has become iconic, as they stood with Olympic gold and bronze medals around their neck in Mexico City. What cost them so much in the immediate aftermath seems to have been the appropriate and necessary investment into the future of American social justice.

Oklahoma Christian University’s annual History Speaks event welcomes civil rights icons to share their experiences with our campus and community.

OC was proud to host two champions of school integration, Carlotta Walls LaNier and Terrence Roberts, for History Speaks: Little Rock Nine in 2014. The video above features OC president John deSteiguer interviewing Mrs. LaNier about her journey through desegregation and her passion for education.

In 2015, Oklahoma Christian brought Claudette Colvin and Fred Gray to campus. Colvin is a pioneer of the African-American civil rights movement. On March 2, 1955, she was the first person arrested for resisting bus segregation in Montgomery, preceding the Rosa Parks incident by nine months. She was the star witness in the case that ended bus segregation in Alabama.

Gray defended both Colvin and Parks after they were charged with disorderly conduct for refusing to seat themselves in the rear of Montgomery city buses. Gray also successfully defended Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and represented Vivian Malone and James Hood, who had been denied admission to the University of Alabama. Gray also led the successful effort to desegregate Auburn University and served on many other notable civil rights cases.

Gray, whose daughter Vanessa Taylor is an Oklahoma Christian alumna, also has been a featured graduation speaker at OC. The video below features his commencement address from 2009.