Located at the Rudisill Regional Library, the purpose of the African-American Resource Center is to collect, preserve and provide access to resources honoring and documenting the experiences of people of African descent. The center is devoted to providing the community with current and comprehensive resource materials and professional reference materials on the culture and history of African Americans.
Research Your Family History
This deep web resource is exclusively devoted to African American family history research. (Note: This database may only be accessed on site at the Rudisill Regional Library)
It provides users a dedicated resource that not only brings together records critical to African American family research; but also connects them to a community of research experts, whose mentoring and assistance can frequently lead to research success.
Search essential historical records for African-Americans, including Federal Census, Marriage and Cohabitation Records, Military Draft and Service Records. Registers of Slaves and Free(d) Persons of Color, Freedman’s Bank and more.
Available only for TCCL library card-holders at the Rudisill Regional Library - 1520 N.Hartford, Tulsa, Oklahoma (918)549-7645
Oklahoma's All-Black Towns
The links above provide more information about the history and culture of all-black town in Oklahoma.
The first all-black town was incorporated around 1865 after the Civil War when formerly enslaved people settled in Indian Territory. As the towns grew, many African-Americans, particularly in southern states, migrated to Oklahoma with the hope that they would get to experience the same prosperity that was becoming more of a norm for African Americans in Oklahoma. By 1920, there were more than 50 towns
Today, there are still 13 all-black towns in existence, some with as many as 1,000 residents. Click on the above links to learn more.
African-Americans in Oklahoma
The above article details the existence of African-Americans in Oklahoma before and after Oklahoma became a state. Initially thought of as the "Promised Land," many Black people were interested in moving to Oklahoma because the avenues for prosperity extended to African-Americans as well. The image below provides a quick snapshot but the article gives a more in-depth account of life during that time.
Significant Eras in African-American History
The following links from the Black Past website lead to a search page where you can find various articles about the topics.
While African-American history cannot be summed up in these few eras, these provide a great starting place to learn more about the history of Americans of African descent. Each search page has information about the eras in general as well as various articles about significant incidents regarding these topics.
Colorized Photo of Greenwood Tulsa from Smithsonian
Too often, the history of Tulsa is spoken about in terms of the destruction caused during the 1921 Race Massacre, formerly known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. However, the Greenwood district of Tulsa was a place teeming with places of both business and leisure for African-Americans. There was a strong culture in the area, and residents felt that they had found a place where they could be wholly themselves.
The articles above provide accounts about what life was actually like for the residents of Greenwood. There are statements from survivors of the massacre as well as images that give glimpses of lives that many didn't think was possible for African-Americans.
Booker T. Washington High School
Once Oklahoma became a state, many of the holds of segregation were pushed onto the residents. That included segregation in schools. In 1908, a two-room school was constructed in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa and was named Dunbar Grade School serving students from 1st to 8th grade. In 1913, a second building was added to serve as the high school and would become Booker T. Washington High School.
The above blog post combines information from several sources, including the Tulsa Preservation Committee, to explain the long history of Booker T. Washington High School, from it's inception in 1913 to its desegregation in 1973 and beyond. Images of the school over the years are also included.
Podcast on African-Americans in Oklahoma
This recent podcast focuses on how issues that pertain to the greater African-American community are being handled in various parts of Oklahoma. While the topics are not necessarily focused on history (for example, there are episodes that focus on the effect of the COVID-19 virus in the community), they do discuss issues which have stemmed from historical practices.
Tulsa Dream Center
According to their website:
Located in the heart of an area ravaged by poverty, lack of resources, and income disparity, the Tulsa Dream Center focuses on addressing the area’s critical needs through programs designed to produce outcome-based results. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has designated it an EnVision Center due to its vital programs which address the four critical areas of life: economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership.
Founded in 1999 by Pastor Billy Joe Daugherty of Victory Christian Center, the Tulsa Dream Center opened to bring hope and healing to the North Tulsa community. While TDC has grown and our programs are much more expansive than 20 years ago, the heart behind what we do and how we serve remains the same. We are committed to bringing well-rounded solutions that lead to the empowerment of each individual that we touch in order to build a brighter future for our community.
Through strategic programs and partnerships, the Tulsa Dream Center has created diverse solutions to bring this diverse city together and expand the horizon of the North Tulsa community for lasting change.
This focus on providing educational opportunities, spurring economic growth, and expanding social service programs to break the cycle of poverty in North Tulsa is why the Tulsa Dream Center has been designated as an EnVision Center, one of only three in the state. Through HUD’s EnVision Center Initiative, the Tulsa Dream Center is providing a centralized hub for economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership so that the citizens in North Tulsa can build a stronger, healthier tomorrow.
North Tulsa Community Coalition
According to their website:
The North Tulsa Community Coalition (NTCC) is organized for the purpose of engaging the north Tulsa community and partners in attaining the full health potential for all in the community and works to ensure that no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their social position or socially determined circumstance.
NTCC implements and supports sustained opportunities for residents in North Tulsa zip codes -74106, 74110, 74126, 74127, 74130, - to achieve improved health outcomes and quality of life.
Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. NTCC is addressing issues that affect the health of our community simultaneously.
Examples of the Social Determinants of Health include:
Availability of resources to meet daily needs (e.g., safety, quality housing and local food markets)
Access to equitable education offerings, economic, and job opportunities
Access to health care services
Social norms and attitudes (e.g., discrimination, racism, and distrust of government)
Exposure to crime, violence, and social disorder
Opportunities for recreational and leisure-time activities
Neighbor for Neighbor
According to their website:
In order to satisfy its mission, NFN’s ten programs provide thousands of services for the indigent, low income and uninsured population each year.
NFN services are two fold:
Survival---for people who need basic services to survive-- such as food, shelter & acute medical care.
Guidance---for people who want to press forward to a better life.
The 10 programs include:
Life Skills: Provides life skills classes and individual coaching. Classes address issues such as nutrition, cooking, budgeting, business ettiquette, addiction, anger management and productive communication. Special classes have been added to help prevent medical problems or deal with current community issues. Interview, Work clothes and Job listings are also provided and discussed.
Family Assistance/ Emergency Assistance: Provides bus tokens, utility bills assistance, work boots & uniforms, and other basic services. Fundamental budgeting advice, job listings and referrals are also available. We also offer a variety of individual services based on client’s unique needs.
Legal Clinic: Serves our clients by drafting legal documents which help families and children with emergency needs as well as providing relief for clients oppressed by deceptive financial schemes.
Optical Clinic: Provides eye exams, eye glasses for adults and children. NFN also provides referrals for substantial eye issues when required.
Food Pantry: Supplements monthly food supply for low-income or disadvantaged families, with an emphasis on healthy foods. The Pantry is a store type setting where clients can pick what they need for their individual family. NFN continues to stand in the gap for many people who don’t have access to adequate food for their family. NFN also offers nutrition education in its Life Skills Program.
Dispensary: Provides prescription screening and prescriptions. NFN provides prescriptions from our shelves and vouchers for outside purchases. NFN also works with pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers that often provide free medications. NFN does not assist with narcotics, psychiatric drugs or select expensive medications.
Community Projects: Distributes books, clothing and household items. There is a Community Children’s Holiday Party offered each December with family entertainment and portraits plus gifts for the children.
Dental Clinic: Provides acute and restorative services. NFN provides emergency extractions, restorative services, oral surgery, dentures, cleanings and children’s dental. An emphasis is placed on dental education.
Free Clinic: Provides acute and systemic care that patients would not be able to receive otherwise. NFN also partnered with OU to develop the OU Medical Clinic next door.
Circle Housing Program: A basic program that provides home ownership for low income families. and home repairs for the elderly or disabled that own their own home.
Met Cares Foundation
According to their website:
Since 2015, the Met Cares Foundation has been working to drive advocacy, fuel positive change and encourage civic engagement by inspiring community ownership and improving and increasing educational opportunities throughout North Tulsa.
Our Met Cares engagement team is committed to building collective power to support community-driven efforts for change. In the words of Ella Baker, we believe that "strong people don't need strong leaders."
We center our work around lifting up the stories of our community and creating the space and opportunity for all of us to push for bold, lasting change - together.
According to their website:
Due North was created in response to the overwhelming number of underserved residents in Tulsa’s Districts 1 & 3. The purpose of the program is to provide North Tulsa residents the opportunity to receive the soft skills and other training necessary to be successful. The program relies on the relationships built between the residents, community partners and local businesses. Due North grows and strengthens relationships to build a stronger community.
For North Tulsa Residents: We connect North Tulsans with exceptional, local employers by providing access to high-quality short-term training, certifications and career support at no cost to our customers. The training offered is designed to help North Tulsa residents gain meaningful employment that provides increased wages and benefits which in turn strengthens families.
For North Tulsa Businesses: North Tulsa is home to some of Tulsa’s most reputable and stable businesses. From McElroy to Muncie to Greenheck and more, Districts 1 and 3 are full of employers that need skilled workers. Due North helps North Tulsans earn the knowledge and certifications at no cost to become the skilled workforce for these organizations.
Oasis Fresh Market
According to their website:
In what the USDA classifies as a ‘food desert,’ in the heart of North Tulsa, now springs up Oasis Fresh Market. Our store’s mission is to reduce barriers for community residents of North Tulsa to access fresh fruits and vegetables, but our heart reaches so much further than just a grocery store.
We are also tangentially launching a non-profit organization, The Oasis Projects, whose mission is to develop programs to reduce barriers and build bridges for other community needs, whatever those maybe!
Monday – Saturday | 8am-10pm
Sunday | 8am-8pm
John 3:16 Mission
According to their website:
John 3:16 Mission is a interdenominational Christian ministry that endeavors to be the "hands and feet of Christ" to the homeless, hungry, poor and at-risk of the Tulsa community.
This means meeting their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.
John 3:16 Mission is not affiliated with any church or denomination. As a nonprofit, 501 (c) (3), the Mission is funded solely by donations from supporters (individuals, companies, foundations, churches, etc.) throughout the Tulsa community and beyond who desire to make relief and recovery programs available.
The Mission adheres to the highest standards of quality of care, treating each person or client, regardless of race, gender, creed or faith background, with dignity and respect.
Founded in 1952, John 3:16 Mission has served the homeless of the Tulsa community for nearly 70 years. The Mission has always been dedicated to the proposition that the homeless are entitled to compassionate, dignified care and no one in need is turned away, whatever their background.
Since its founding, John 3:16 Mission has served millions of meals and provided millions of nights of lodging to our community's most vulnerable and troubled people. Beyond providing meals and safe shelter, the Mission endeavors to lead the hurting and the lost into a life transforming relationship with Christ.
Visit Black Wall Street Memorial Sites
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is considered one of the deadliest race massacres in American history. There are a number of sites, including a brand new museum, dedicated to understanding the roots of what happened during the massacre and memorializing the lives lost and otherwise affected. These memorial sites are a must see for visitors and Tulsa-natives alike.
Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all of the businesses in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa. These links lead to the business websites so that you can check out the amazing services and goods they provide.
The above is a comprehensive list, created by Onikah Asamoa-Caesar (founder of Fulton Street Books & Coffee), that details the various businesses around Tulsa that are Black-owned. They include: food & restaurants, retail, beauty & grooming, health & fitness, counseling services, professional services, coaching & consulting, news & media, photography & video, and a number of other services.
Historic All-Black Town Tour
Every June, the AARC takes a number of community members on a tour of a couple of Oklahoma's all-black towns. The event is an all day affair and includes a light breakfast, a bus tour through the towns with historians providing real-time information about them, and lunch in one of the towns.
As June nears, the AARC will send out information about how to sign up. Please note that there is a cost and a limited number of seats.
To learn more about the tours or to be notified by email of tour information, please email Larissa McNeil (contact info provided to the left).
- Five Civilized Tribal Roll
Jukebox Listening Station
An homage to the musical artistry of African-Americans. Hear the soulful sounds of great African-American composers, singers and musicians on our vintage Wurlitzer jukebox.
- North Tulsa oral histories (DVDs)
- African-American history (videos and DVDs)
Materials for Teachers
Electronic Reference Sources
- Inventors and Innovations
- Encyclopedia of African-American History and Culture
- American Social Leaders
- Heritage Facts Online
- Multicultural America
- African-American Heritage Genealogy Database (can only be accessed at Rudisill Regional Library)
- Author appearances and book signings
- Book discussions
- Annual tour of Oklahoma’s historic all-black towns
- Annual Kwanzaa celebration
- Annual Black History Month celebration
- Grapevine Literary Society Book Club (Join us!)
Books about Black and African American Culture
Look through these lists of books on various topics that focus on the experiences of Black and African American people. These lists are not comprehensive and recommendations are welcome!