Minnijean Brown Trickey to Speak at Giles Symposium

Photo Cutline: 
New York City Mayor Wagner greeting the teenagers who integrated Central High, Little Rock, Arkansas / World Telegram photo by Walter Albertin. Pictured, front row, left to right: Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Carlotta Walls, Mayor Wagner, Thelma Mothershed; back row, left to right: Terrance Roberts, Ernest Green, Melba Pattilo, Jefferson Thomas. 1958.(1958.) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c25125

In her teens, Minnijean Brown Trickey helped change history.

A junior in high school in 1957, Trickey and eight fellow black high school students, known as The Little Rock Nine, attended a then all-white Central High School.

There, they were ridiculed and bullied by white students. When Trickey finally retaliated to some of the abuse, she was expelled and finished high school in New York.

She later graduated from Southern Illinois University and raised her six children in Ontario, Canada.

The Civil Rights activist continues to tell her story and will be USAO’s 2010 Giles Symposium keynote speaker. Her lecture on Citizenship and Public Service is scheduled for Oct. 7.

Trickey has served in the Clinton Administration as deputy assistant secretary for workforce diversity at the Department of the Interior. She also has been awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Tribute by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation; the International Wolf Project Award for work promoting racial harmony; the NAACP Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal for being one of The Little Rock Nine; and a medal from the W.E.B. DuBois Institute.

Additionally, she has been the subject of two documentaries: Journey to Little Rock: The Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey and Little Rock: 50 Years Later.

Ray & Mary Giles

Ray Giles dedicated his life to public service and to the state of Oklahoma. During a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, Giles was awarded three Battle Stars, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal for his service in Europe. He returned to Caddo County in 1945 and assumed the role of wheat farmer. Giles became active in local politics, serving on the State Board of Agriculture and ultimately as an Oklahoma State Senator, a position he held from 1976 to 1992. 


On the bustling floor of the Oklahoma State Senate, Giles was an icon. Year after year, the senator from District 23 voted his conscience, represented the agenda of the farmer, and supported the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. 


Like her husband, Mary Martin Giles was dedicated to public causes, particularly education. She attended the Oklahoma College for Women in the early 1940s. She taught in Carnegie schools for five years and was a member of the Grady County Mineral Owners Association as well as her church. She was passionate about farming and issues related to farming. 


Ray Giles passed away in 1995, followed by Mary in 1998. Their legacy of service and commitment to family, education, and agriculture in Oklahoma lives on through the Ray and Mary Giles Lectureship at USAO.