Black History is Oklahoma History

This page is a work in progress, created to share resources about the Black experience in Oklahoma.

The senseless deaths of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans, and the protests that occurred in response, have gripped Oklahomans, Americans, and the world alike. As an educational organization and a dedicated community partner, the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) has long believed that one important step toward ending racism and injustice is a better understanding of our shared history. By providing resources that give context for the Black experience in Oklahoma, we hope to spark civil discourse and open dialogue about the role of race in the history of our state. While these conversations about our past may not be comfortable, they are necessary to understand where we have been and how we can best move forward together.

During its 127-year history, the Oklahoma Historical Society has collected and shared the story of Oklahoma. In the 1980s, the OHS began a concerted effort to engage with Oklahoma’s Black community—to listen to their stories and share their experiences. While we have made both mistakes and significant strides, we will continue to do better and do more. As new voices call for change, the OHS stands committed to our mission to collect, preserve, and share the history and culture of all Oklahomans. Learn more and browse free resources related to the Black experience in Oklahoma below.

Exhibits

Traveling Exhibits
Bring a traveling exhibit to your school, library, church, or local community center.



Visit Realizing the Dream, an exhibit about the Black experience in Oklahoma, at the Oklahoma History Center.

Audio and Video

The Clara Luper Show
Listen to select episodes on YouTube


Through the Looking Glass Darkly (1973)
Part I, Part II, Part III
From WKY-TV News, this documentary shares stories of Black Oklahomans from pre-statehood to the 1970s through rare photographs and interviews.

“Oklahoma Bound,” the films of Reverend S. S. Jones Watch selections from silent films created by Reverend S. S. Jones, who came to Oklahoma Territory in 1889. Scenes of traditionally All-Black towns of Oklahoma include Taft, Clearview, Melvin, and Boley in the 1920s.

Podcasts
“Black Wall (Main) Street,” A Very OK Podcast
“Bill Pickett,” Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum Podcast
“Slavery in Indian Territory,” BrainBox podcast, Oklahoma Humanities


Civil Rights in Oklahoma


Presented by the Oklahoma Historical Society, this documentary shares the history of sit-ins in Oklahoma City during the Civil Rights Movement. Through historic images and new interviews with sit-in participants, producers Joyce Jackson and Bruce Fisher tell the powerful story of this movement.


“The Good Fight,” Crossroads online publication

This issue presents an intimate look back at the struggle for civil rights in Oklahoma City.

Find more about Civil Rights Leaders and History
in The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Green I. Currin
Drusilla Dunjee Houston
Roscoe Dunjee
Amos T. Hall
Ira DeVoyd Hall Sr.
Coody Johnson
Clara Luper
Frederick Moon
George Perkins
Melvin Porter
Jake Simmons Jr.
Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher
A. J. Smitherman
James Stewart
William Twine
I. W. Young

Civil Rights Movement
McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950)
NAACP
Segregation
Senate Bill One

The Chronicles of Oklahoma
“An Unflinching Call for Freedom: Clara Luper’s Pedagogy at the Center of Sit-Ins,” by Rachel E. Watson

“Fitting In and Sitting In: Phillip Henry Porter and Memories of Integration Efforts in Enid, 1955–58,” by Aaron Preston

“Thurgood Marshall’s “Broom Closet”: The Structure of Segregation in McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents,” by Eric Lomazoff and Bailie Gregory

“Unforgotten Trailblazer: Nancy O. Randolph Davis,” by Gloria J. Pollard

Historic Places

“An Oklahoma Story of Place: Voices of Preservation”


“An Oklahoma Story of Place: Voices of Preservation” – Summit, Oklahoma
This video features interviews with descendants of Reverend L. W. Thomas, founder of the town of Summit, Oklahoma (Muskogee County). Summit was one of more than fifty All-Black towns established in present-day Oklahoma, and one of only thirteen still in existence today. The many businesses in Summit before World War II included a cotton gin, filling station, grocery, and garage.


“An Oklahoma Story of Place: Voices of Preservation” – Threatt Filling Station
This video features Reverend Allen Threatt III discussing the Threatt Filling Station, which was built in 1915. Owned and operated by his family, this service station was located along Route 66 near Luther, Oklahoma, and it served African American travelers and locals. This business is one that would typically be included in “The Travelers’ Green Book.”

National Register of Historic Places

Attucks Community Center, Ponca City
Attucks School, Vinita
Douglass High School (Old), Oklahoma City
Douglass School, Lawton
Dunbar Elementary School, Oklahoma City
Dunbar School, Dunbar
Edwards Heights Historic District, Oklahoma City
Excelsior Library, Guthrie
First Baptist Church (Colored), Anadarko
Jamison Cemetery, Okay vicinity
Jewel Theater, Oklahoma City
Langston University Cottage Row Historic District, Langston
Mount Zion Baptist Church, Tulsa
New Hope Baptist Church, Chickasha
Edward Richardson Building, Arcadia
Dr. W. H. Slaughter House, Oklahoma City
St. John Baptist Church and Rectory, Ponca City
St. Paul Baptist Church & Cemetery, Meeker vicinity
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Muskogee
St. Thomas Primitive Baptist Church, Summit
Reverend L. W. Thomas Homestead, Summit vicinity
Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Oklahoma City
Union School District 19 1/2, Newalla vicinity
Vernon A.M.E. Church, Tulsa