recent roll: Oklahoma; The 13 Black Towns of Oklahoma
Late last year with the pandemic not letting up, I decided to ditch the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area for something a bit slower… so I came to Tulsa! The network of Tulsa Remote members was instrumental in helping me get settled here and they were also cool enough to put together this monthly trip where we all caravan out from Tulsa to the historically all-Black towns of Oklahoma.
From 1865 to 1920 more than 50 black towns and settlements sprouted up in Oklahoma. Sadly economic and social factors such as the Great Depression and Jim Crow Laws resuted in many of these towns not surviving. Check out my journey through rural Oklahoma below.
Trip #1: Summit, Rentiesville & Vernon
To kick off the tours, we made our way out to Summit, OK meeting up with the Mayor at the Community Center/ Fire Department building. He gave us a “State of the Town” providing a rundown on the dynamics of the town, speaking on the history and where it currently stands today. Rentiesville is home to the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame also known as the Down Home Blues Club a famous venue that hosts annual Festivals and music shows. Last but not least we pulled up to Vernon where we met up with Herman Huffman a community leader and pastor who graciously gave us a tour of the Huffman Pentecostal Temple and the towns old Community Center.
Trip #2: Grayson, Clearview & Boley
We started the second leg of the tour off in Grayson, meeting up with the towns Mayor Leon Anderson and learning about the adversity he’s faced during his tenure in the position. In Clearview we had the chance to visit the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame and meet the mayor, Marilyn Jackson.
Trip #3: Tatums & the Oklahoma History Center
On our third expedition we traveled to Tatums and the Oklahoma History Center in OKC to check out an exhibition on the African American Experience. Once in Tatums we arrived to the cities Town Hall and were greeted by several city officials, a State Congresswoman and the towns local historian where we heard about the cities current state of affairs as well as the storied past of how the town came to be.
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