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A Hidden Figure of the Tulsa Fire Department: Cledella Evans
John Neal, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
John Neal, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

A Hidden Figure of the Tulsa Fire Department: Cledella Evans

Now that she is retired will there be?

By Fred L. Jones, Jr.

fjones@theoklahomaeagle.net

 

The movie Hidden Figures has broken many box office records and has gained worldwide acclaim. It taught us that behind so many successful endeavors to make the world a better place and to make society more functional, there were always Hidden Figures: people of color have forged their way with humble and meek spirits, making awesome and powerful moves beyond racial barriers and breaking down strong holds of yesterday to make America a better place today.

Cladella Evans is a hidden figure as the first African American female in the Tulsa Fire Department.

She graduated from Booker T. Washington in 1989 with a full four-year athletic basketball scholarship to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Evans graduated from Iowa State in 1994 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology.

We asked Evans a few questions about her Tulsa Fire Department experiences and her comments follow:

Who was your greatest influenced to join the Tulsa Fire Department?

“I would have to say my father Joe Evans, who passed away in 2011,” He was a Captain in the department “

.           “In my senior year at Iowa State, he approached me and told me there may be an opportunity to be the first African American female at the Tulsa Fire Department. He said he never thought it would happen in his life time.”

“I hated fire and had a true fear of heights. After I graduated, I returned home and went into coaching girls’ basketball at Booker T. Washington and worked at Tulsa Job Corps, Soon I became bored.”

“I finally decided to apply for the Fire Department in 2000. After being accepted in 2001 and getting started, the greatest challenge I probably faced was the department not knowing how to deal with a black women,”

“I can remember one of the training officers on the day I graduated asking how I should wear my hair. He said you will be the first black woman so however you wear it is what we will set as the regulation.”

“So I was like wow!”

“So I told him I would just put my hair in a single braid like the white women. “

When asked if her Sociology degree helped her deal with and understand the adjustments the Tulsa Fire Department was attempting to make Evans stated:

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“Yes it really did help me to understand the different attitudes of the other races that I had to deal with on a day to day basis, and how group decisions can really impact an individual.”

“They would always say I was on my soap box if I had an opinion, I was so upset one time that I told them if I was a man I would probably whip your tail, because sometimes they would say things and I would say you know that’s racist right, but to so many of them it wasn’t.”

As America continues to deal with racism and hatred, we will continue to look for and find true hidden figures, pieces of the puzzle without which the vision or task would not be complete, would be left undone, or worse, done without the adequate equations adding up to positive and flowing connectivity.

We congratulate Cledella Evans on breaking ground with the Tulsa Fire Department. Because of her steadfastness and perseverance, many obstacles and barriers have been overcome.

Cledella Evans is truly the hidden figure of the Tulsa Fire Department

Editor’s note: We will continue to monitor the Tulsa Fire Departments hiring policies in the future.

 

 

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