Omni Circle visits Black Wall Street
OMNI CIRCLE came prepared.
OMNI CIRCLE is a Topeka, KS based community empowerment collaborative providing workspaces and professional development, which also focuses on sustainability.
Reaching beyond Topeka, that development prompted OMNI CIRCLE to take 30 future entrepreneurs (aka high school students) on a 10 hour trip back in time to BLACK WALL STREET in the Historic Greenwood district of NORTH TULSA.
Everyone from Kansas had done their homework. You'll hear Chris, the guide at Greenwood Rising, and Alnetta Morris at OSU-Tulsa in the clips below, but, just as often you'll hear OMNI CIRCLE professionals explaining the significance of Oklahoma's most decorated scholar, Dr. John Hope Franklin, or why two of the nation's rarest historical markers are located on the campus of OSU-Tulsa.
OMNI CIRCLE's tour bus arrived at the Greenwood Cultural Center on a Friday afternoon in June at about 11am. Half of the group continued on to Greenwood Rising with the tour planner as guide, the remaning group of 20, adult chaperones and students, remained with Green Book Travelers creator Mike McUsic, visiting the center's vast collection telling the story of Historic Greenwood both before and after the nation's only domestic aerial bombing of a US city occurred in 1921.
Divided into 4 groups of 10, OMNI CIRCLE paid the ultimate compliment to BLACK WALL STREET, next, having lunch at Wanda J's Next Generation, Fat Guy's Burgers and Lefty's on Greenwood.
Oklahoma State University-Tulsa Community Engagement Coordinator, introduced the full tour to OSU=Tulsa's Black Settler in Tulsa exhibit by world-renowned photographer Don Thompson with narratives by historian Eddie Faye Getes whose pivotal earlly work identifying and interviewing survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre with a youhg videographer, Kavin Ross, became a major catalyst for the state's recent 1921 commemorations.
Followed by a walking tour of the BTW marker recognizing the current campus sits on the 1905 and 1920s sites of the Booker T. Washington High School located in Black Wall Street until the 1950s, continuing on, the group paused for future OSU hopefuls to take photos in front of the OSU sign at the south end of the campus.
At the Ellis Walker Woods Memorial, one of only a handful of major monuments anywhere in the world dedicated to African Americans, Mrs. Morris revealed the early history of NORTH TULSA from 1913-1951...from Ellis Walker Woods' arrival to his death in NORTH TULSA.
Non-negotiable on the tour was a visit to OAKLAWN CEMETERY and the 1921 Gravesites excavations. On this final leg of the tour, 1921 Gravesite Oversight Committee member Kavin Ross (yes the same young man who, decades earlier, held the camera while Mrs. Eddie Faye Gates interviewed 1921 Race Massacre Survivors) gave an overview of progress at Oaklawn, via microphone to phone, on board the bus.
We'd forgotten something.
Back to Historic Greenwood and the Greenwood Cultural Center for a photo at the colorful mural.
update: The mural is painted on the highway overpass wall that replaced Cameron Street.
Greenwood Avenue was not the only bustling businsess street destroyed in the 1921 disaster. Cameron Street was also one of the oldest and most prominent Black business miles of the many other BLACK WALL STREET streets destroyed in 1921 and throughout the last century.
This March, 2023, a grassroots community-led coalition was granted $1.6 million by the federal Department of Transportion to undertake a study to remove the highway overpass and recover approximately 23 acres of the 36 square blocks destroyed in 1921, entering as a community trust.
Speaking via phone, KAVIN ROSS discussed the 1921 Massacre Gravesite at Oaklawn Cemetery.
photos: JKavin Ross//Twitter Oaklawn/Georgia Public Radio all others R.Clardy/NTOK
Tulsa School Board District 2 representative, Judith Barba Perez has announced a new opportunity taking her away from Oklahoma, opening her seat responicible for Emerson, Kendall-Whittier, McKinley, Mitchell, Owen, Sequoyah, Springdale, and Unity elementary schools; Carver Middle School and Rogers College Middle School; Phoenix Rising 9-12; and Rogers College HS and Booker T. Washington HS, all located in or adjacent to NORTH TULSA.
The Board of Education invites all eligible residents of District 2 to consider submitting an application to serve as a board member for the remainder of Ms.Barba Perez' term (ending in 2024).
The Board will accept applications until 5pm on Friday, Jan. 20. Click here for more information.
As witnessed throughout the country, school board duties are not for the faint of heart. The twice monthly meetings most of us think of as the TPS Board Meetings are only a handful of the dozens of break-away meetings and multiple official duties performed by Board members throughout a school year.
Pictured above, TPS BOARD members Dr. Jerry Griffin (D6), Dr. Jennettie Marshall (D3) and Mr. John Crosant (D5)
1. Mr. Darryl Bright (C.U.B.E.S.) addresses Board members at a DEC 2022 Special Meeting discussing re-districting.
2. Dr Jennettie Marshall, District 3 Board Member, speaks at Special Meeting.
2022 has delivered two monumental books looking back at life growing up in NORTH TULSA.
One, Venecia Eubanks Sutton-Price's award-winning augmented memoir BETH FORTNER MOSELEY Her Story and, the other, Gregory Goodwin's autobiography, G-O-O-D-Y. Both Goodwin and Sutton-Price are BTW grads, as was Fortner Moseley, whose father was GH Fortner, one of the founders of the HUTCHERSON BRANCH YMCA and one of the future decades long BTW teachers on the faculty the night of May 31, 1921.
Gregory Goodwin's grandfather, E.L. Goodwin, Sr., before purchasing The Oklahoma Sun newspaper and transforming it to indispensible, rebranded The Oklahoma Eagle, was one of BTW's graduating seniors readying for their prom the night the 1921 Tulsa Massacre both interupted and shaped his life...and his grandson's.
On a crisp November Oklahoma Sunday afternoon, Goodwin's homecoming and book signing, with a backdrop of portraits telling the story of NORTH TULSA, packed a room at the Greenwood Cultural Center to overflowing.
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