Press "Enter" to skip to content

Oklahoma History Conference to feature Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, author Hannibal Johnson and the Red Dirt Rangers


By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —

OKLAHOMA CITY — Join the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) for the 2021 Oklahoma History Conference, a virtual conference scheduled for April 22–23. This year’s theme, “Perspectives in History,” was designed to encourage presentations sharing the stories of underrepresented groups, lesser-known topics and new points of view. 

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with 11 live sessions, 11 on-demand sessions and 2 special programs. 

Included in the live sessions will be a keynote address by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo on Thursday, April 22, at noon

The conference is free to the public, but preregistration is required. Visit okhistory.org/conference for a full schedule and to register.

This event has been made possible through a grant from Oklahoma Humanities (OH).

In 2019 Harjo, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, was appointed the 23rd US Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position. She has written nine books of poetry and a memoir, “Crazy Brave.” 

Among her numerous awards, Harjo received the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation for Lifetime Achievement. In 2014 she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.

This event is supported in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, which receives support from the State of Oklahoma and the National Endowment for the Arts.

During the conference historians, scholars, genealogists and museum professionals will speak on a wide range of Oklahoma topics and professional development subjects.

Author and attorney Hannibal Johnson will discuss the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the current commission’s plans to memorialize the event. Johnson chairs the Education Committee for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.

Johnson is leading the research efforts for the new Greenwood Rising Museum.

Also included in the conference will be the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony.

A special musical performance by the Red Dirt Rangers will take place in honor of the late Steve Ripley, a renowned musician and 2020 inductee into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame. The Red Dirt Rangers, who have been making music since 1988, worked closely with Ripley.

A pioneer in Red Dirt music, Ripley was a guitarist for JJ Cale and Bob Dylan, a founder of the band The Tractors, an acclaimed recording engineer, and a music historian.

Funding for the conference is provided in part by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Oklahoma Humanities is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen communities by helping Oklahomans learn about the human experience and participate knowledgeably in civic life through the humanities such as history, literature, film studies, art criticism and philosophy.

As the state partner for the National Endowment for the Humanities, OH provides a free educational magazine, Smithsonian Institution exhibits, reading and discussion groups, and other cultural opportunities for Oklahomans of all ages.

The official state agency for the support and development of the arts, the Oklahoma Arts Council provides approximately 350 grants to nearly 200 organizations in communities statewide each year. The Council manages the art collections at the Oklahoma State Capitol. To learn more, visit arts.ok.gov.

The Oklahoma Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state.

The 2021 Oklahoma History Conference is made possible by supporters, including the Oklahoma Arts Council, BancFirst, Oklahoma Humanities, Ann and Burns Hargis, James R. Waldo, Judge Ralph and Barbara Thompson, Mabrey Bank, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Dr. Deena K. Fisher, Neal Leader, University of Oklahoma Press, Preservation Oklahoma, Sharpe House, Dan Lawrence and Karen Keith.

For more information and to register, visit okhistory.org/conference, or contact Larry O’Dell at 405-522-6676 or Angela Spindle at 405-522-0317.

US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo will give the keynote address during a live session of the 2021 Oklahoma History Conference on Thursday, April 22. Joy Harjo website photo.
Author and attorney Hannibal Johnson will discuss the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the current commission’s plans to memorialize the event during the Oklahoma History Conference on April 22. Hannibal Johnson website photo.
History Conference on April 22. Hannibal Johnson website photo.Photo 3: During the 2021 Oklahoma History Conference, the Red Dirt Rangers (L-R: John Cooper, Brad Piccolo, and Ben Han) will give a special musical performance honoring the late Steve Ripley, a renowned Oklahoma musician. Facebook photo