SAND SPRINGS, Okla. — Over the last century Oklahomans formed more than a dozen all black towns. This includes 13 original communities and six new ones. Some, like Red Bird, shaped the culture of rights such as voting.
"The black people would show up to vote and then they wouldn't be able to vote and here it was their town. So they finally just closed the polls and then they challenged the government of Oklahoma," said Ginger Murphy with the Sand Springs Historical and Cultural Museum.
These towns are on display at the museum for Black History Month. Murphy said after growing up in the 1950s, it's important to remember this part of Oklahoma's past.
"I remember seeing a black water fountain and a white water fountain. There's just no place for that. I just hope we can keep getting better and better and better as a people and that we can come together more and more all the time," she said.
For many of the all black towns, the only thing that remains are memories. But one lawmaker is looking to preserve the history so these communities aren't forgotten.
"Those small towns... when they wither up and die that hurts the whole state. That's revenue that we don't have, that's tax money that we don't have and if we can create opportunities for entrepreneurship, greater businesses and better communities, then we all benefit," Senator Kevin Matthews said.
Some, such as Brooksville, still exist today. This session Matthews is asking for public dollars from the state's tourism fund to build communities like this back up.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.