Last week I delved into the local history of the African American community in Ardmore. During my research I discovered some amazing individuals that put their mark on Ardmore. One of these individuals was Mazola McKerson.
Born in 1920 in Bluff, Oklahoma, McKerson didn’t move to Ardmore until 1929. At the age of 26, McKerson began a catering company out of her home in 1946 and just sixteen years later in 1962 she opened and began operating “The Gourmet Restaurant” until 1997 at the age of 77. In that same year she was also inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.
As I continued my research I soon discovered that in 1977 she was elected to the Ardmore City Commission which made her the very first female and African American to serve on Ardmore’s city council. She didn’t stop there however. McKerson then went on to become the first African American female in the United States to serve as a mayor of a city of more than 30,000 people. Not only was this a first here in the United States but it was also a first for Ardmore when she began serving her community of Ardmore in 1979.
McKerson went on to serve as President of the Ladies of Action Club, became the first chair person of the Governor’s Commission on the status of women, and represented Ardmore on the Oklahoma Municipal League Board, and in 1984 she was named Woman of the Year at the Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City.
I soon became excited as I continued my research. There were others as well putting their mark on Ardmore.
Eric Fields was born in 1982 here in Ardmore and has been featured on ESPN fights, trained under the USA Boxing Olympic head coach, and is even rated as one of the top cruiser weights in the world.
Graduating from ArdmoreHigh School in 2001, Fields began boxing just two years later in 2003. By 2005, he had beaten Tony Grano, the U.S. Amateur Heavyweight Champion and by 2006, Fields turned pro. Then on July 27, 2007, Fields knocked out 2004 Olympian Ramiro Reducindo and by January 18, 2008, he defeated former IBF cruiserweight champion Kelvin Davis.
Others were soon to follow in leaving their mark on Ardmore, including Jermaine Gresham and Justin Blackmon.
Gresham was born in June 1988 and was a high school standout at wide receiver from ArdmoreHigh School. Many top college football programs were interested in Gresham, including the Oklahoma Sooners, Nebraska Cornhuskers, USC Trojans, Ohio State Buckeyes, Miami Hurricanes, Oklahoma State Cowboys, and the LSU Tigers.
On February 1, 2006 he signed with the Oklahoma Sooners and by 2010 he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengal’s.
Blackmon, who was born in January of 1990 in Oceanside, California, attended Ardmore’s PlainviewHigh School and was twice recognized as an All-American.
Blackmon went on to play college football with the Oklahoma State University Cowboys from 2008-11 and while playing for OSU he was awarded the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nations top receiver and was recognized as a consensus first team All-American. He was also named the 2010 Big 12 offensive player of the year, and was the very first receiver to earn the honor. By 2012 he was drafted into the NFL to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ardmore has much to be proud of and as you have followed this series in the last few weeks, let us not forget the importance of our past for look how it can brightly shape our future. Have a great week everyone!