Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: August 5, 2016
Sen. Kevin Matthews
Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus to create endowed scholarship
honoring state’s first black senator
Sen. Kevin Matthews, chairman
of Oklahoma’s Legislative Black Caucus, said members are creating a $10,000
endowed scholarship at Langston University to honor the life and work of E.
Melvin Porter, Oklahoma’s first black member of the state Senate. Porter died
July 26 at the age of 86. Matthews will formally announce the creation of the
scholarship at a memorial service for Porter to be held this Saturday, August 6
at 11:00 a.m., at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
“Oklahoma became a state in
1907 but until 1964 no black citizens had ever been elected to the Senate. E.
Melvin Porter broke that barrier and was an important figure in Oklahoma’s civil
rights movement,” said Matthews, D-Tulsa. “It is the hope of the Oklahoma
Legislative Black Caucus that this scholarship will ensure his lifelong work
will always be remembered.”
Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered
all American and Oklahoma flags on state property to be flown at half-staff from
5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 5 through 8:00 a.m. Monday, August 8 to honor
Porter, who was born in 1930 in Okmulgee. He was a member of the first class at
Vanderbilt University Law School to include black students. Elected in 1961 as
president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, Porter participated in sit-ins and boycotts with
fellow Oklahoma civil rights leader, Clara Luper.
He ran unsuccessfully for a
House seat as a Republican in 1962, but was successful as a Democrat two years
later in his bid for the Senate, where he remained for 22 years. While in
office, Porter introduced the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act, Oklahoma’s
equivalent of the federal Civil Rights Act. The Senate honored Porter during the
2015 session, 50 years after he began his first term in the upper chamber.
For more information, call Sen. Kevin Matthews, 405-521-5598.
E. Melvin Porter, (center) surrounded by family, received a standing ovation
from members of the State Senate during a 2015 ceremony, fifty years after
Porter began his service as Oklahoma’s first black senator.
For more information, contact: