Effort Underway To Get Tulsa On Civil Rights Trail

Friday, February 21st 2020, 7:22 pm

A push to get Tulsa on what's called the "Civil Rights Trail," could encourage travelers to stop here to learn more about the city’s black history.

The tourism trail was just created two years ago, and Tulsa is being encouraged to apply as a new destination.

The trail is designed to welcome tourists to churches, courthouses, schools and museums connected to the civil rights movement.

Cities like Birmingham, Little Rock, Memphis and Washington, D.C. are all on the Civil Rights Trail map.

More than 100 locations across 15 states are all labeled as destinations for tourists eager to learn more about the civil rights movement.

"We've kind of been encouraged to re-apply,” Phil Armstrong said.

Armstrong is the Project Director for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.

He said Tulsa tried to get on the map two years ago, but was denied, and he doesn’t know why.

"With the historic, all black towns of Oklahoma, we have a unique narrative and story to tell, as Oklahoma. Tell everybody, hey, there's a lot of rich black history here, so include us on that Civil Rights Trail,” Armstrong said.

Senator James Lankford wants to see Tulsa on the trail, too.

"We should be open and ready to be able to tell that story. And right now, we can't tell that story to people that are driving through. That's something we as a state, and we as a community need to be able to fix,” Lankford said.

With the goal to build a Greenwood History Center and renovate the Greenwood Cultural Center before the 100-year anniversary of the massacre, there's a lot of work ahead.

Armstrong points to places already here for anyone interested in Tulsa’s story.

"Walk around and go to the E.W. Woods Booker T. Washington Memorial, and all this within walking distance. The John Hope Franklin Park. The iconic Greenwood Cultural Center, the historic Vernon AME Church," Armstrong said.

Armstrong said they'd like to get Oklahoma City involved, too, with the multi-million dollar Clara Luper Civil Rights Center on the way.

"We actually presented our plans to Oklahoma City and the mayor last fall, to let them know this is not just for Tulsa, it's for Oklahoma," he said.

Alabama Tourism Department Director Lee Sentell said the deadline to turn in an application for the Civil Rights Trail will likely be this summer and new locations would be announced February, 2021.

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