Fannie Bates

Join us on Saturday, December 9th, as we celebrate Fannie Bates and 12 other winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award. The program will begin at 10am in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. You’re welcome to join us!


Fannie Bates became attuned to discrimination against minorities as a child, and she wasted no time in joining the struggle for equal rights. At 18, attending Eastern Oklahoma State College, she founded that school’s first multi-racial co-ed student-led organization. In 1971, she joined that NAACP, and has been a member ever since. She has also worked with the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes and other indigenous organizations.

Fannie has pursued a varied career as a community theater playwright and producer, a legal assistant, and an elementary and special education teacher.

As an educator, Fannie focused her work in inner city schools with the most vulnerable children. She did not just teach, she became a trusted friend and mentor for her students – and sometimes to their siblings and parents.

One of Fannie’s passions, as both an educator and an activist, is the life stories of people of color who have contributed greatly to their communities and our country, and who have been too often forgotten. She uses every opportunity to tell those stories and to make sure we remember those who came before us in the fight for equality. One such person is Roscoe Dunjee, the Oklahoma man who started the first African American newspaper in Oklahoma – among many other accomplishments.

After retiring as a teacher in the public schools, Fannie – who was by no mean done educating – started a very unique school which she named for that hero of hers: Dunjee International School. She has been teaching English to people in Afghanistan, including women and girls, over the internet. Six days a week, Fannie gets up in the middle of the night and runs her students through lessons from beginning to advanced English usage, both aural and written.

Her technique, which includes having her students in turn teach others in their community, has been changing lives of women and girls in a culture where the chances to learn are limited. With English-speaking skills, they can gain employment in a variety of respected career fields, support their families, and attain independent living.

Nominated by Rena Guay.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

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