Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors the public is invited to attend this event free of charge. You will watch the event right here on this homepage. We will start the countdown at 6:50 p.m. CST and begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. CST
If you choose to donate these monies are to fund scholarships at Langston University.
Biennially, the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus requests the presence of many distinguished citizens at the A. C. Hamlin Awards Gala. This year we are asking for your virtual participation! The awards gala is named in honor of Oklahoma’s first African-American legislator. The Oklahoma Black Caucus Foundation is a nonprofit organization that continues to zealously serve as a strong advocate of education. The proceeds from this event help fund students at Oklahoma’s only HBCU, Langston University. Your kind support is welcome for the upcoming A. C. Hamlin Awards Virtual event.
The Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) is comprised of a record high 8 members among 149 members of the Oklahoma State Legislature. OLBC works for equity and improvement in education, health outcomes, economic development, criminal justice reform and housing.
Albert Comstock Hamlin was born in Topeka, Kansas, on February 10, 1881. His parents were slaves. In 1890, the family left Topeka to homestead a 160-acre farm near Guthrie in Logan County. Hamlin attended school while continuing to work the farm with his mother. He married Kay Weaver in 1899.
As the movement for statehood gained impetus, the Democrats were locked into a struggle with a strong Republican Party and its vital black constituency. The race question became the Democrat’s issue. Amidst a worsening racial atmosphere, the GOP made a fatal decision in 1906 by endorsing segregationist policies. The Republicans were soundly defeated. The Democrats were in control of the Constitutional Convention. The disenfranchisement of African-Americans was underway.
As the Republicans mounted vigorous campaigns for state offices in 1908, Democratic leaders felt it necessary to limit the participation of blacks in politics, the majority of whom were Republicans. However, Hamlin emerged from Guthrie, heavily Republican and predominantly black, and soundly defeated his Democratic opponent, Ray Teague 1116-47. The Oklahoma City Times reported that Hamlin, “was quiet, dignified and well-informed.” Hamlin was a community activist, serving on the school board for ten years and as a Township Trustee of Springdale for nine years. He was a devoted member of the African Methodist Church and earned the respect of his neighbors as well as his fellow legislators. He passed legislation creating a home for orphaned Colored boys at Boley and Taft.
Historian A. M. Gibson wrote that the election of Hamlin was one of the reasons for the passage of the racist grandfather clause. The grandfather clause provided that no one could vote unless he could read and write a section of the Constitution, had voted before January 1866, or was a direct descendant of someone who could vote at that time. The Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves, came in 1862.
A victim of racism by both political parties and limited by the provisions of the grandfather clause, Hamlin was defeated in his bid for re-election. He fought the grandfather clause in court, but lost the ruling. He died on August 9, 1912, and is buried in rural Logan County. That same year the legislature redistricted his former seat. Upon Hamlin’s departure from the Oklahoma Legislature, it would be almost 60 years before another African-American would sit in either chamber.
Mrs. Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106
Mrs. Viola Ford Fletcher, 106
Mr. Hughes Van Ellis, 100
Former Justice Tom Colbert,
1st African-American to serve on the Oklahoma Supreme Court
Mr. George Krumme
Pres. Kent Smith, Langston University
Honorable Senator Maxine Horner
Sam Jackson Family
The Dick Rowland Family
The John and Loula Williams Family