Oklahoma Historical Society to host Oklahoma All-Black Towns State Conference
On Saturday, August 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Oklahoma Historical Society is partnering with the Oklahoma Conference of Black Mayors to present the Oklahoma All-Black Towns State Conference, an event that will bring together the mayors of Oklahoma’s 13 All-Black towns. The conference is designed to encourage a network of state agencies to join with the mayors to share resources enabling them to collect, preserve and share their town histories.
In the early 20th century, Oklahoma was home to more than 50 All-Black towns and communities. Segregation and Jim Crow laws led many Blacks to leave the state, then the Great Depression caused more to migrate to urban areas or other states. These events devastated many small Oklahoma towns, including the All-Black towns. Today only 13 of these historic towns survive.
During the morning session, the towns will present their strategic plans for infrastructure, resources, and cultural attractions. In the afternoon, several state agencies will deliver brief presentations of possible resources available to support the towns. The agencies include the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality; Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency; Oklahoma Arts Council; Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; Oklahoma Department of Commerce; Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department; Oklahoma Department of Transportation; Oklahoma Water Resources Board; and USDA Rural Development–Oklahoma. In addition, each agency will have a staffed table available in the Devon Great Hall of the Oklahoma History Center to assist participants throughout the day.
Senator Roger Thompson is the keynote luncheon speaker. Senator Thompson is the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, vetting all legislation with a fiscal impact on the state including all budget bills. He also serves as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding. The committee and its working groups are charged with vetting recommendations for the utilization of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. In addition, Thompson serves as co-chair of the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) oversight committee. He is also a member of the Finance and Rules Committees.
Although this is the first time Oklahoma’s All-Black towns have come together for a statewide conference, the conference is designed to allow the 13 All-Black towns to exhibit information about their unique histories, sell special souvenirs, to discuss future projects, and it is the mission of the organizers to make this an annual event
The event will be held Saturday, August 20, at the Oklahoma History Center, located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City. Please register by visiting www.okhistory.org/abt or call Saidy Orellana at 405-522-5204. When registering you can pre-pay for an optional lunch, which is available for $10.
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 OHS maintains museums, historic sites, and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs, and publications, the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.