By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Coltrane Group of Oklahoma City will host its 2nd Annual Historic Black Towns Banquet on Thursday, February 6. The 2020 event, themed “Historic Black Towns Honors 13,” will recognize individuals for their outstanding and inspirational service.
The celebration will take place, from 7 – 10 p.m. at Quail Creek Golf and Country Club, 3501 Quail Creek Boulevard. The event is sponsored by St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church. February is nationally recognized as Black History Month.
The thirteen towns scheduled to recognize these outstanding Oklahoma residents include Brooksville, Boley, Clearview, Grayson, Langston, Lima, Redbird, Rentiesville, Summit, Taft, Tatums, Tullahassee, and Vernon.
Founded by Andre`and Jessilyn Hall-Head of Oklahoma City, the Coltrane Group has a mission of “preserving and revitalizing the thirteen remaining historic Black Towns of Oklahoma, recording the rich history and heritage of their present and past residents; restoring and preserving feasible buildings; revitalizing economic development, and cultural tourism within these areas.”
The nonprofit organization serves a significant population in Oklahoma’s All Black Towns.
“Our determination to achieve our mission by preserving communities ‘One Step At A Time’ continues to be instrumental in the achievement of our goals,” the website states. “We look to the past which brings us, with understanding, to our future.”
Dinner guests are asked to select from the menu option of Ancho rubbed grilled boneless prime pork chop topped with caramelized onions and served with a sundried cherry jus or sautéed chicken breast topped with lump crabmeat, asparagus, and a lemon buerre blanc sauce.
Previous banquet honorees include: Yoko and Larry Spears, Town of Boley; Iceola Dillingham, Town of Grayson; Dr. Alberta Mayberry, Town of Langston; Eldridge Gordon, Town of Lima; Stanley Carlis, Town of Rentiesville; Stephen D. Russell, Town of Taft; Rev. Anderson C Fields, Town of Vernon. Honored for their overall support to the Mission of The Coltrane Group: Dr. Bob Blackburn, Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director; State Senator George E. Young; The Rev. Dr. Major L. Jemison, Senior Pastor, St. John Missionary Baptist Church; Melvena Heisch, Assistant Director/Preservation, Oklahoma Historical Society; Jaqueline Jemison, First Lady, St. John Baptist Church; Jan Larson, Director of Public Affairs, LDS Coordinating Council; and Bruce Fisher, Oklahoma Historical Society Administrative Program Officer.
That evening, attendees will hear about the Build-A-Brick Walkway Campaign to benefit the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Boley. The building, also home to the First National Bank of Boley, is believed to the be the first nationally chartered black owned bank in the country. Sales of personalized bricks will go towards the cost of preserving the building.
The Coltrane Group received a grant to help with the cost of restoring and preserving the bank building, but additional funds and sponsorships are needed. The goal is to turn the facility into a tourist destination preserving and retelling the bank’s history. The entire restoration project is estimated to cost $200,000.
Individual banquet tickets are $70 and tables of ten are available for organizations, churches, groups of supporters at $700. Guests are asked to dress in business attire.