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Oklahoma Historical Society to host “Legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre” roundtable discussion at Oklahoma History Center

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) will host “Legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre,” roundtable discussion on Saturday, June 12 at 1:30 p.m. The program will review how race relations developed in Oklahoma after one of the state’s most horrific events.

The event will take place at the Oklahoma History Center, and limited seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The panel will present several perspectives that represent different aspects the state’s African American community.

Moderated by J. D. Baker, special assistant to Oklahoma City Mayor Holt, the panel will include Brenda Alford, who will share her family’s story of surviving the Tulsa Race Massacre; Oklahoma State University professor Dr. Brandy Thomas Wells, who will provide historic context for and ramifications of the massacre; and Rev. Dr. Robert Turner of the historic Vernon Chapel A. M. E. Church, who will give the perspective of a community leader in Tulsa.  

Brenda Nails-Alford is the granddaughter of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivors and Black Wall Street entrepreneurs. She serves on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, Tulsa Race Massacre Commemorative Grant Program Committee, Greenwood Heritage Citizens Advisory Committee and chairs the Tulsa Mass Graves Public Oversight Committee.

Nails-Alford serves in these capacities to raise awareness of the history of Greenwood’s Black Wall Street and bring some sense justice and healing to a community that suffered greatly. 

Dr. Thomas Wells earned her Ph.D. at Ohio State University and is a professor of history at Oklahoma State University. She is currently preparing a book manuscript that analyzes African American women’s international interests and activities from the 1890s through the 1960s. Her work raises awareness about how members of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the National Council of Negro Women pursued anti-colonial and anti-imperialist agendas, and how they participated in the overall quest for civil and human rights. Dr. Wells’s essays have appeared in the journal Origins and the collection “Women and Modern Empire, 1840 to the Present.”

Rev. Dr. Turner is the academic dean for Jackson Theological Seminary in Little Rock AR. Turner is on several boards and involved with organizations in Tulsa, such as the American Village, Crutcher Foundation and the North Tulsa Task Force. Since coming to Tulsa in 2017 he has become a tireless advocate for Greenwood. Through his leadership, the Vernon Chapel A. M. E. Church has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.      

Baker is a sixth-generation Oklahoma City resident who graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor of arts in public relations. While at OU, he received the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies Leadership Award. Along with his position in the mayor’s office, Baker serves on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma City Black Chamber of Commerce. He was recently recognized in the top five of Oklahoma City’s “Most Powerful Young Professionals” by OKC Friday newspaper for the second year in-a-row.

This roundtable discussion is sponsored by the OHS’s Black Heritage Committee and the Oklahoma History Center Education Department. For more information about the event, please call 405-522-6676.

The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people.

Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the Oklahoma History Center – a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society – maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the history of Oklahoma.

For more information, visit okhistory.org.

Speakers at the “Legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre” roundtable discussion will include J.D. Baker, Brenda Alford, Dr. Brandy Thomas Wells, and Rev. Dr. Robert Turner of the historic Vernon Chapel A. M. E. Church.