Who is Wyatt Tate Brady? Tulsa founder, prominent businessman, KKK member involved in 1921 race riot

UPDATE: With a 7-1 vote, the Tulsa City Council approved a measure to change Brady Street to M.B. Brady Street. It will also be known as Reconciliation Way.

RELATED: Council votes to change Brady name


TULSA -- Thursday, Tulsa city councilors are expected to vote on one of the more controversial issues facing the governing board in years: a possible re-naming of downtown's Brady Street.

The street's namesake is Wyatt Tate Brady, a central character in Tulsa's founding and, until recently, a man who held a revered position in the city's history.

A 2011 piece on Brady shed light on the businessman's complicated past, and with it the move to strip his name from Tulsa's fast-growing Brady Arts District and Brady Street.

Brady came to Tulsa in 1890 as a young shoe salesman from Missouri, signed the city's incorporation papers and built Tulsa's first hotel with baths in the Hotel Brady. 

But the celebrated Tulsan was also a member of the KKK, as evidenced by a transcript of an investigation into the Klan involving Brady.


"I was a member of the Klan here at one time," he testified. Brady stated further he was a member until political differences led to his ousting.

Brady's name has also been linked to the Tulsa Outrage of 1917, during which 12 members of the Industrial Workers of the World were whipped, tarred and feathered. A federal investigation into the incident revealed statements from all 30 attackers which pointed the finger directly at Brady and Tulsa's Chief of Police. 

READ AN EXCERPT HERE (Document from John C. Walton Collection, Box 14, Folder 27, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries)

But Tulsa's current outrage lies primarily with his role in the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. In a Tulsa Daily World article published the day after the clash left much of the predominantly African American Greenwood District in ashes and at least 39 dead, Brady told the paper "he counted the bodies of five negroes" while on overnight guard duty.

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It's that part of Brady's history that has caused such an uproar in a city once torn apart by race. Last Thursday, city councilors intended to vote on a change to Brady Street, given they didn't have the authority to change the name of Brady District.

The result ended in a one-week continuance after each of the eight councilors in attendance voiced their opinions to a packed City Hall and it became apparent a 4-4 tie was likely to come.

2NEWS reporter Dan Pearlman met with District 8 City Councilor Phil Lakin Thursday afternoon, to hear from him on the impending vote. Lakin, on vacation at the time of last week's meeting, is thought to be the deciding vote on the issue.

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