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Press Release

March 11, 2016

Contact: Larry O’Dell
Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 405-522-6676

Shirley Ann Ballard Nero Endowment Fund to Focus on All-Black Towns

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) is honored to announce the creation of the Shirley Ann Ballard Nero Endowment to benefit historical programming for historical black towns. Dr. Donnie Nero has donated the initial amount to the fund. The OHS will continue to fundraise to increase the endowment, including an annual Juneteenth event at the Oklahoma History Center.

Shirley Nero, a native of the all-black town of Clearview, Okla., taught at Sapulpa and then Porum public schools for thirty years. Nero received four different teacher of the year honors. In 1994 the Sapulpa School Board presented her the Distinguished Service Award. She sits on several boards, including the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame. In 2016 she was a recipient of the Pinnacle Award, which honors outstanding women for their work as role models to women and children in the Tulsa community.

The Shirley Nero Endowment will provide money every year for research, programming, exhibits, and/or events related to the 13 historical all-black towns. One of Shirley’s passions is Oklahoma history and especially the state’s unique story of these black towns. No other state had as many all-black communities as Oklahoma. This occurred for several reasons, primarily the granting of land to freed slaves of the Five Civilized Tribes, and African Americans making land runs and settling near one another.

The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.

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