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Join KOSU & Focus: Black Oklahoma This Sunday For 'The Battle For Greenwood'

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Jamie Glisson
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Dubbed the “Negro Wall Street” by Booker T. Washington, The Greenwood District of Tulsa was — at the beginning of the 20th Century — home to more than 600 businesses across 35 city blocks.

Deep Greenwood, once the gateway to the bustling main street activities on Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street, was home to multiple theaters, restaurants, offices, and more.

Today, Greenwood is a ghost of its former self.

Black ownership in the district is near the lowest it’s been in Tulsa’s history. The ownership of land, homes and businesses was what made Greenwood a mecca of Black excellence despite only being one generation removed from African enslavement. But almost all of this has disappeared. Gentrification, urban renewal, politics and other issues exist, but some believe Greenwood is experiencing a renaissance.

Focus: Black Oklahoma, in partnership with KOSU, is producing a three-part series titled "The Battle for Greenwood." The first episode will air this Sunday, September 26th, at 3 p.m. The episode titles and brief descriptions are as follows:

Episode One: “Street Fight” explores the complex history of the two incarnations of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and their two different missions; the status of the Greenwood Cultural Center in light of the fact the Greenwood Rising History Center wasn’t built next door; and how urban renewal has created what some consider a third massacre in the District.

Episode Two: “What’s Next, or Is Greenwood Rising?” investigates the contentious relationship and agendas between the two Chambers of Commerce in Greenwood; the backstory on the land on which the Drillers Stadium resides and its impact on the economic growth of the community; and an effort to remove Highway I-244, which is divisive in many ways. Airing in October.

Episode Three: “Reparations” tackles not only what that might be in 2021, but who is deserving, and why the survivors and descendants haven't already been compensated in some form. Should the entire community receive reparations, in the form of economic development? Some community members believe the debt has been paid. Airing in November.

Greenwood was a community with systems of care and citizens of affluence and skill that was built from 1907 to 1921 and again even better from 1922 to 1965. Despite the dearth of development across North Tulsa’s now sprawling 10 square miles, organizations and individuals in the greater North Tulsa community are stepping into the power of the Greenwood legacy to inspire, educate, and collaborate around the past, present and future of Greenwood. There is still hope that one day Greenwood and the North Tulsa community can recreate, reclaim, repair the best of that legacy.

The community we now call North Tulsa is this historically Black part of the city, which was destroyed once during the infamous Tulsa Race Massacre, and again during the development of the highway and university systems. North Tulsa today has a life expectancy 11-14 years less than that of South Tulsa.

The Battle for Greenwood Team

Our team includes Nick Alexandrov, Jamie Glisson, Carlos Moreno, Jesse Ulrich, Kolby Webster and Devin Williams. Focus: Black Oklahoma's executive producers are Quraysh Ali Lansana and Bracken Klar. Our associate producers are Nick Alexandrov and Vanessa Gaona. Focus: Black Oklahoma is supported in part by KOSU, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Schusterman Family Philanthropies.

ABOUT FOCUS: BLACK OKLAHOMA

Tri-City Collective, in partnership with KOSU Radio & the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, launched Focus: Black Oklahoma, an hour-long news and public affairs program on various topics relevant to the BIPOC community statewide, in December 2019. Focus: Black Oklahoma features a spotlight interview supported by stories on current topics and events affecting BIPOC Oklahomans. These topics include news, politics, current affairs, education, family, health, relationships, law, finances, business, arts, spirituality, technology, and more. Focus: Black Oklahoma serves as a catalyst for change and understanding by strengthening Oklahoma's ability to create awareness for a more diverse and inclusive population. The show is also available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One and at www.kosu.org/podcast/focus-black-oklahoma.

ABOUT TRI-CITY COLLECTIVE

Tri-City Collective, Inc. was founded in 2016 by seasoned educators with a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and providing learning and artistic opportunities outside the classroom for youth and adults. The Collective’s work is driven by a passion for social justice and creative expression, with the understanding that every human has thoughts worth listening to and should have access to platforms to be heard. The Collective engages in the “idea business.” Education, understanding, and respect are at the core of Tri-City projects. And the Collective’s diverse membership reflects the world we want to create.

ABOUT KOSU:

KOSU is a public radio service of Oklahoma State University and a member station of National Public Radio. Its programming can be heard by more than 91,000 on-air listeners every week in central, northern and northeastern Oklahoma, parts of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas and worldwide at www.kosu.org.

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