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Oklahoma City Arts project to capture oral history of forgotten Black neighborhoods

Oklahoma Historical Society

Oklahoma City is carrying out a new project that will capture the oral history of Black neighborhoods after receiving a grant from Oklahoma Humanities.

The project, called “Oklahoma City's Forgotten Black Communities: Where safe spaces, equity, culture, and creativity lived,” is working to identify residents of disappeared neighborhoods, such as Sandtown, Brickyard, Walnut Grove, East Side, Carverdale and many others.

Prior to statehood in 1907, several predominantly Black communities were established in the present-day Oklahoma City metro area. The people of these communities included free individuals, formerly enslaved individuals and Freedmen of Indigenous Tribes.

Many of these communities were destroyed following urbanization, redlining and Jim Crow laws.

The project is a collaborative effort between OKC Arts, Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma Oral History Department and the Oklahoma Black Museum and Performing Arts Center to commemorate these historically Black communities.

The grant awarded by Oklahoma Humanities is part of the United We Stand: Connection Through Culture program. In 2023, the National Endowment for the Humanities issued $2.8 million to programs across the nation to develop localized humanities programming that focuses on cross-cultural understanding, empathy and community resilience to build a united front against hate.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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