Dr. Paul Lehman has the honor of being a University Professor Emeritus for the Department of English of the University of Central Oklahoma. He is someone you should know.
“I was the first African American educator hired to teach at UCO,” Lehman said.
His doctoral degree was from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., where he earned a fellowship to pursue a degree in English. He was usually the only person of color in all of his classes, he said.
His graduate degree is from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1971 majoring in Language Arts Communications (Speech/English). He attended then-Central State College from 1966-69.
“The college was desegregated, but the number of African American students was not large. In the majority of the classes I attended, I was the only or one of three or less students of color in the class,” he said of CSC.
When Lehman first came to Edmond as a student, the population was less than 30,000 and no people of color lived in the community except in University housing. The population has grown considerably and along with it the diversity of the population, he said.
“People of color have joined with the Edmond population in helping to make it a pleasant, peaceful, and welcoming community; their involvement runs from the city council to the public schools and businesses,” Lehman said.
Lehman said ignorance and indifference represent the basis for perpetuating fear of skin color.
“The fact that people avoid the truth relative to the myth of race and hold on to the bogus concept underscores that ignorance,” he said. “We accept science generally because it is based in facts, yet when we are told by science that all human beings belong to the same species (family, not race) we simply ignore it.”
“Living in Edmond today provides a wealth of experiences for me in that I can participate in a variety of community activities, meet and share books and views with friends and colleges. With the university nearby I have many opportunities to engage in intellectual pursuits and activities. Other sources of entertainment and social contacts are also available,” he said.
His parents were Kermit W. And Frances Lehman and the family consisted of three boys and three girls. The family moved to Oklahoma City from Mansura, La. in 1946. In 1969 he married Marion W. White of Philadelphia.
“We were blessed with three children, two boys and a girl, he said. “Unfortunately, our daughter died at the age of six in 1981. Marion died in 2011.”