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Corinthian Clay Nutter

Born: December 10, 1906, Forney, Kaufman County, Texas. Married: Austin Kline Nutter, June 2, 1941, Kansas City, Missouri. Died: February 10, 2004, Shawnee, Johnson County, Kansas.

Corinthian Clay Nutter was born in Forney, Texas, to Robert R. and Roxie Anna (Ford) Ricks. Her father worked for the railroad. Her mother was an itinerant worker and Nutter was frequently taken out of school. She fell behind in class and dropped out at age 14. In 1922, after a brief marriage, she moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and lived at the YMCA. She played the piano for numerous entertainers and the organ for silent movies. She found lodging with a member of Bennie Moten’s jazz band. Nutter became a friend of Moten and his pianist, William “Count” Basie.

She earned her high school diploma in 1936. She commuted to Western University in Quindaro to complete her bachelor’s degree. In 1938 she received a Kansas teaching certificate. She began commuting to Emporia state University in pursuit of her master’s degree in education. She married Austin K. Nutter in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 2, 1941. He died in 1998.

She was hired to teach at Walker Elementary School in Merriam. The segregated school had two classrooms and eight grades. It was run down and lacked indoor plumbing. The school district funded a new elementary school with proceeds from a bond election, which opened in 1947. When African American students were denied access to the new school, parents and community activist Esther Brown organized a legal challenge and 39 of 41 students and their families boycotted the school. Nutter continued to teach the students, holding classes in church basements and living rooms. She received a small stipend from the NAACP for her efforts, but said she would have done it for nothing. She provided key testimony when the case reached the Kansas Supreme Court. She said, “Schools shouldn’t be for color. They should be for the children.” The Kansas Supreme Court upheld Webb v. School District No. 90 in 1949 and African American children were allowed entrance to the new school.

Nutter later moved to Olathe where taught at Westview Elementary School. She eventually became the school’s principal. She retired in 1972 and continued to be active in her community. She was a life member of the NAACP and a member of Paseo Baptist Church. She received the YWCA of Greater Kansas City Racial Justice Award in 2003, the Humanitarian Award for human and civil rights, and was named to the Rosa Parks Wall of Tolerance in 2003. She was inducted into the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame at the Kansas City Community College.

Nutter died in Shawnee on February 10, 2004.

Entry: Nutter, Corinthian Clay

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: January 2017

Date Modified: February 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.