The Oklahoma Historical Society is hosting a live podcast event discussing the stories of our state’s all-Black towns while interviewing Henrietta Hicks, Shirley Nero and Oklahoma Senator Kevin Matthews. On Feb. 10 at 6 p.m., visit the Oklahoma History Center for “A Very OK Podcast.” Complimentary beer and wine will be offered, along with an experience completely free to the public.
“At one time, Oklahoma had 50 all-Black towns, more than any other state,” said Trait Thompson, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. “A unique confluence of events led to the establishment of the towns in our state. The Reconstruction treaties with the Five Tribes after the Civil War granted land rights to formerly enslaved African Americans, and the Oklahoma land runs starting in 1889 allowed Blacks to claim land allotments. The all-Black towns provided a sanctuary for African Americans to be able to conduct business and live their lives during the era of Jim Crow segregation.”
Questions will be directed toward Henrietta Hicks, who was born in the all-Black town of Boley. The town itself has bestowed upon her the title of its official historian, as she works to preserve the history behind her home. “A Very OK Podcast” will also feature Shirley Nero from Clearview, who served on the Oklahoma Historical Society Board of Directors and Black Heritage Committee, and Oklahoma Senator Kevin Matthews, the founder and chair of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.
“There are 13 all-Black towns still remaining,” said Thompson. “During our live recording of ‘A Very OK Podcast,’ our guest panel will be discussing the history of the all-Black towns, the reasons for their early success, the reasons many of them began to diminish starting in the Great Depression, and what’s being done today to revitalize them. We encourage people to come out and learn more about this fascinating aspect of Oklahoma’s history.”
Visit okhistory.org/livepodcast to register.
For more information about the OHS, check out okhistory.org.