Telling The Stories Of Oklahoma City's All-Black Communities

As Oklahoma City grows and becomes a big-league city, it is at a cost, and for some, that cost is not just financial it is emotional. News 9's Mike Glover spoke with the OKC Black Alumni Association in today's Something Good.

Monday, February 12th 2024, 7:37 pm

By: News 9, Mike Glover


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As Oklahoma City grows and becomes a big-league city, it is at a cost, and for some, that cost is not just financial it is emotional.

“Sandtown, West Town, South Town, and Walnut Grove,” said Shawntay Alexander with the Black Alumni Association. The four represent Oklahoma City’s all-black communities from the nineteen twenties. “My parents moved to Walnut Gove when I was around two or three years old,” said former Walnut Grove resident Mary Smith.

Sadly, there isn’t much documented about the communities, so this month the black alumni association is reaching out to the former residents and their descendants to tell the stories. “They could chastise you and then take you to your parents and then you would probably get a whipping,” said Smith.

The stories are being recorded every Tuesday and Saturday at Ralph Ellison Library. “When we’re talking about the black communities specifically, it’s important and it’s powerful to see yourselves there, to know that you belong there,” said Alexander.

Sadly, the communities were destroyed to move Interstate 40 and expand the canal. A very emotional subject for the families. “When I think about how hard he worked, I mean, he was the American dream> He didn’t have a high school diploma, but he still acquired land,” said Shay Omokhomion, a descendant of Walnut Grove. “It was so difficult to see where my family’s home was, there was no longer the house, they had torn the house down,” said Smith.

The families also don’t feel they were fairly compensated for their property. “If it were your grandfather that had to spend the last five or six years of his life fighting for that house, fighting for that land, and then still being kicked out, what would you do?” said Lecretia Mitchell, a descendant of Walnut Grove. “I’m not leaving my house, and he did just that and he died right in his vehicle in his driveway,” said Omokhomion.

Through the tears, the families find it therapeutic just to be able to tell their stories. “I’m eighty-one, and I’m very proud to be eighty-one, I’ve learned not to be angry, it hurts,” said Smith.

“To see them share their stories with so much passion and emotion it’s very humbling,” said Alexander.

The stories will be told throughout February, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The coalition is still looking for more residents to come out and tell their stories. They can be reached through their Facebook page @ OKC Black Alumni Coalition

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