Civil rights attorney Louis Bullock received the Rogers State University Constitution Award Thursday afternoon.
“This is a humbling honor that you have bestowed on me,” he said. “I want to give special appreciation to the Board of Governors to the Constitutional Award. Their recognition means a great deal to me.”
RSU had been giving this award to Oklahomans who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the principles of the United States Constitution through their work since 1987.
Bullock has worked as a civil rights lawyer for over 45 years and was involved in cases that brought change to a variety of institutions including Oklahoma prisons, Tulsa’s jail, the Tulsa Police Department and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Bullock said when he looks back on his career the one case that stands out to him is the Hissom Memorial Center.
“It has made such a dramatic difference in the lives of people that were in the class,” he said.
“It was so controversial at the time.”
This case challenged the neglect of children and adults in DHS’s institutions for people with disabilities.
Bullock said many times he has thrown himself into the middle of a controversial topic.
“At times you didn’t want to pick up the paper,” he said “Folks have a way of turning disagreements awfully personal. That was tough.”
But Bullock said his family was always by his side.
“They’ve always been loyal, I’ve always felt like they’ve had my back,” he said.
Bullock received the Oklahoma Bar Association's Courageous Advocacy Award twice.
“Any positive recognition that I receive in life is actually the hard work of my wife,” he said. “She is an exceptional warrior and the love of my life. Many of the things that I am credited with, she was a companion throughout. Typical of her, she suffered the slings and arrows that naturally come, but she was always there and I appreciate it very much.”
Bullock said to receive this award was a great honor.
“When you look at the list or recipients, you’ll find a list that includes man of my heroes,” he said. “Men and women that I looked up to and tried to win their approval because they are giants in Oklahoma and truly serve the public good. They did much to make us a better state and a better people.”
One in particular that stood out to Bullock was Mrs. Ada Louis Sipuel Fisher, who received the award in 1994.
Bullock and Fisher are the only recipients listed as attorneys.
“That makes us not only unique, but makes me very proud,” he said.
Bullock said Fisher was a pioneer in the civil rights movement.
Mrs. Fisher was there before Rosa Park rode the Montgomery bus, before Emmett Till and the tragedy of his death and before bloody Sunday,” he said.
Fisher’s goal was to go to law school at the University of Oklahoma, but at the time people of color were not allowed to attend.
Fisher fought back through the court system and after several attempts was given the access to study law at OU.
“The lesson to us today is that we honor her by finding our own courage to stand up to the violations of our mutual creed,” he said.
Bullock said that creed is to work to make the promise written by Thomas Jefferson – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – available to all.
“Our pursuit of that goal has lead us to today,” he said.
Bullock said to be in the same group she was selected to be apart of – a Constitutional Award recipient – makes the award special to him.
The advice Bullock gives to others is to try.
“Use your voice, educate yourself and help your friends and family to understand what’s going on,” he said. “Don’t be shy at expressing your views to government officials and if you’ve got a chance to join others and do that, then do it. There is power in numbers.”