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Fannie Mae Duncan

2009 Inductee

Fannie Mae Duncan (1918-2005) was a philanthropist, community activist and entrepreneur who helped integrate Colorado Springs peacefully through her visionary approach to business. She established the Cotton Club, a downtown nightclub, as a destination for African-Americans to enjoy firsthand the greatest black entertainers of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Cotton Club evolved into a symbol of hope. At a time when most businesses were segregated, Fannie Mae hired waitresses of all ethnicities and received guests of all colors. She eventually earned widespread support for her philosophy of inclusion from unlikely sources, including the local police chief.

A sign in the Club’s window summed up Duncan’s philosophy: “EverybodyWelcome.” Fannie Mae responded with typical flair when the Cotton Club’s famous black performers were barred from the city’s fine hotels. She purchased a historic Victorian mansion as her personal residence and opened it to icons like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Duncan’s home became a showplace for the entire community. Fannie Mae Duncan was born in Luther, Oklahoma and moved to Colorado Springs with her family in 1933. In recognition of her many accomplishments, she was inducted into the Colorado Springs High School Hall of Fame and received the Pikes Peak Blues Community Lifetime Achievement Award and the Black Womanhood Award.