IS OUR CONTEXT
Honoring Our Legacy
The history of Black folks in Oklahoma is a complicated one, full of conflict and contrast. From Black slaves who arrived on the Trail of Tears, to freedmen who established all-Black towns as road-weary respites in the early 1900s, to the sharecroppers of the Dustbowl era and those who tried to change their own luck in the Land Run, Black people have been a part of the Oklahoma story from the beginning.
Vibrant Black neighborhoods became the birthplace of artistic expression and new opportunities, like Deep Deuce in downtown Oklahoma City and Black Wall Street in Tulsa. The voices of Oklahoma legends like Ralph Ellison and Charlie Christian, Roscoe Dunjee and Clara Luper, rang out across the country from juke joints, street papers, school rooms and sit-ins, offering glimpses of the Black experience in the Heartland and inspiring generations to continue the work of coming home without a welcome.
Black spaces in Oklahoma City are hard to find today. Even after the Civil Rights era, thanks to the relentless pressure of assimilation and gentrification, and to continued systemic discrimination and disenfranchisement, urban African-American communities have had to struggle to survive. Separated by 100 years of targeted oppression and a six-lane highway, the Black community in Northeast OKC has quietly endured.
What does it look like to thrive in a Black future?
But a new time is coming, the future our ancestors hoped for will arrive. One where we create space for being unapologetically, powerfully, truthfully Black. And where the triumph of opportunity from hundreds of years of sweat and tears is realized. Where we hold a place at the table for each other, listen to each other, celebrate each other, invite each other in.DNA