Hannah Diggs Atkins

Class of
Hannah Diggs Atkins

Hannah Diggs Atkins

“If we join hands as true believers in equality and justice for all, we can live together in harmony.”
Hannah Diggs Atkins, 1988


A North Carolina native, Hannah Diggs Atkins received her degrees from St. Augustine College and the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago and worked in the university’s library until moving to Oklahoma. She attained her Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1968, where she chaired the Public and Mental Health Committee. She authored landmark legislation in the fields of mental health, education, and legislative reform. U.S. President Jimmy Carter selected Atkins for duties at the United Nations and Governor Henry Bellmon appointed her Secretary for Social Services (1983-1987) before she was appointed to serve as Secretary of State in 1988. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1983.

Fun fact

Hannah Diggs Atkins was the first African-American woman to be elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives (1968-1980).

Oklahoma connections

Atkins came to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband, Charles, and son, Edmond, in 1951.


Oklahoma City


Public Servant






Relevant Exhibits

Intellectual Changemakers: Celebrating Oklahoma's Visionaries

Intellectual Changemakers: Celebrating Oklahoma's Visionaries

This exhibit features seven inspiring Oklahomans that helped to reshape our understanding of the world and inspired peope to make changes.