BTW Athletic Museum

La’Mar Burks’ passion captures Hornets’ excellence in school’s athletic collection.



La’Mar Burks, founder and curator of the Booker T. Washington High School Athletic Museum, stands in the museum’s football room.

Twenty or so U.S. high schools are named for American educator and author Booker T. Washington, according to La’Mar Burks, founder and curator of the BTW Athletic Museum.

He should know. He has visited many of them.

But thanks to Burks’ passion and hard work, none has a collection of sports artifacts to match that of the Tulsa school.

Burks, a former Hornet football player who was an All-Conference center on the school’s 1973 state championship team, has led the efforts to record and preserve the athletic legacies of arguably the most decorated school in Oklahoma history. Burks graduated in 1974.

An art teacher for 32 years and a coach for 25 years in Tulsa Public Schools, Burks has combined both disciplines in his creation and continued expansion of the athletic museum. It is housed in the BTW Historical Building, which was formerly the school’s main entrance.

Eventually, the Historical Building also will house similar collections that chronicle the school’s past academically and in music and the arts. 

Burks contemplated the athletic museum after he and two former Hornet football buddies, Gerald Hicks and Rodney Clark, produced a DVD on BTW football successes called “Hornet Football Excellence.”

Burks jumped into the memorabilia project full speed in the summer of 2010 after receiving what he calls the “orange light go-ahead” from BTW Assistant Principal Mike Mims.

“Whenever I take a vacation, I usually go visit other Booker T. Washington schools and have visited about 10,” Burks says. “Many of them have sports museums, but none can even touch ours.”

He also has visited other sports halls of fame to gain insight as to the best practices of sports museums.

Burks’ first order of business in establishing the museum was furnishing the BTW Football Hall of Fame, which he began in the summer of 2010.

With 15 state championships in football, finding appropriate memorabilia was never a problem. Jerseys, helmets, shoes, pads, footballs and various other mementos line the shelves.

The players whose framed jerseys hang on the walls all played in the NFL and could almost comprise their own All-Star team.

Established NFL players such as Reuben Gant, Jonathon Brown, Kevin Lockett, R.W. McQuarters, Demond Parker, Aaron Lockett, Mark Anderson, Felix Jones and Robert Meacham are among those enshrined.

The museum would not be complete without a tribute to longtime BTW Coach Seymour E. Williams, whose name graces the school’s football stadium. Williams’ coaching resume is impeccable:

  • Wins: 290; losses: 23; ties: 11.
  • Won 17 Oklahoma Interscholastic Athletic Association Black Football Championships and 29 Oklahoma Interscholastic Athletic Association Black Basketball Championships.
  • Won five National Basketball Championships.
  • Never lost a track meet.
  • Won six national track meets.

Burks started work on the BTW Basketball/Wrestling Hall of Fame in the summer of 2011. While it may still be a work in progress, two of the honorees are BTW’s best-known and most successful athletes: Kenny Monday (wrestling) and Wayman Tisdale (basketball).

Monday is a three-time Olympic wrestler with gold and silver Olympic medals to his credit. And an entire corner is devoted to the late Tisdale, who many consider to be the greatest Hornet of all time.

The 1942 Black National Championship game ball shows all the teams BTW defeated to win the title. Tisdale was a three-time All-American at the University of Oklahoma; 1984 Olympic gold medalist; No. 2 overall draft pick in the 1985 NBA draft; had a 12-year NBA career; and was a renowned jazz bass recording artist with eight albums to his credit and a No. 1 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart.

Etched on the wall is a handwritten testament to the fame of No. 23 for the Hornets, in which Tisdale’s college coach, Billy Tubbs, tells the story of eating with him in a Norman café.

“Wayman goes to the restroom, and a female takes the straw from his soda (and) runs out of the cafe shouting, ‘I got Wayman Tisdale’s straw! I got his straw!’”

In addition to the mementos from Tisdale’s playing days, jerseys of former Hornets Richard Dumas, Ryan Humphrey and Etan Thomas, all of whom played in the NBA, grace the walls along with collages of newspaper clippings.

The Track/Baseball/Softball Hall of Fame is in the start-up phase in what was the school’s former library.

Most of Burks’ work on the museum takes place during the summer.

“When I come in here, I hate to leave because I can easily get lost in thought of all these great people,” he says.

It’s easy to tell Burks loves his hobby.

“Lots of times in the summer when I come in the morning, I’ll raise the blinds, just stand there and simply look out the window at the football field and take it all in,” he says. “It’s comforting.”

Why does Burks think the athletic museum is important to the BTW community?

“The reason the museum is important is that it gives both young and old alumni the opportunity to witness what they have seen or heard about BTW athletics,” he explains. “It gives a person the opportunity to add to the rich BTW legacy and to pass that legacy on to future generations.”

Burks says two people in particular have helped make the museum possible.

The first is the late Hicks (Class of 1975), who Burks says was instrumental in making the idea a reality.

“The other is my father, the late Sam Burks, a former BTW Stadium/S.E. Williams Stadium supervisor,” the historian says. “Having had the opportunity to work many ballgames during my early childhood gave me a firsthand insight as to the history of BTW — meeting players, watching championship ball teams and being around role models of Hornet players, teachers and coaches.”

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September 2017

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Cost: FREE

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View map »


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Telephone: (918) 743-4297

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111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

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“CHALK IT UP” An Art festival, begins on September 22nd from 7pm-11pm and continues on Saturday, September 23rd from 10am-7pm.  This is a family event...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rose District
211 S. Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK  74013
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Sponsor: ARTSOK, Regional Arts Alliance of Broken Arrow
Telephone: 918-688-5766
Contact Name: Alisa Inglett
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Tulsa's Funniest Stories - One Night of Hilarity!     Friday, September 22 at 8 PM - 10 PM Want to hear the funniest stories that have been told on our stage the last 4+...

Cost: 10.00

Where:
IDL Ballroom
230 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Ok So Story Slam
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Beehive Lounge
2405 E Admiral Blvd
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $10

Where:
Soul City
1621 E 11th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - LandShark Pool Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Case Soccer Complex
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
ORU Aerobics Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $8

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S Rockford Rd
Tulsa, OK
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Ok So Story Slam brings back some of the best stories from the last four years.

Cost: $10

Where:
IDL Ballroom
230 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Run
3141 E Skelly Drive
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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The time has come for pumpkin everything. Breakfast, lunch, and Pie Night is all pumpkins.

Where:
Antoinette Baking Co
207 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
American Legion Post 308
11328 E Admiral Pl
Tulsa, OK
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In Elizabeth Brown’s “Morphology,” the artist imagines a landscape of drawings and sculptural installations that are inspired by the natural world, but are forged from an array of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts
307 E. Mathew Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: Living Arts
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Cost: $5

Where:
Blackbird On Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Centennial Lounge at VFW Post 577
1109 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Fuel 66
2439 E 11th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
George's Pub
108 N 1st St
Jenks, OK
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Where:
Fassler Hall
304 S Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Dusty Dog Pub
5107 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $35.50-$55.50

Where:
Chapman Music Hall, Tulsa PAC
110 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Utopia Bar & Lounge
3508 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
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Fed up suburban youths struggle to find their place in a superficial society in the rock opera based on the pop-punk band's Grammy-winning album.

Cost: $30-$32

Where:
John H. Williams Theatre, Tulsa PAC
110 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK
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Through a series of events, Christine begins to believe her daughter, the seemingly perfect Rhoda, may in fact be a serial killer.

Cost: $12-$15

Where:
Muskogee Little Theatre
311 S 3rd St
Muskogee, OK
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Clark Youth Theatre performs the original high school musical, starring Rydell High's class of 1959.

Cost: $10-$13

Where:
Clark Youth Theatre
4825 S Quaker Ave
Tulsa, OK
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A celebration of impermanence, artists compete, creating artworks with chalk on 10'x10' sections of Main Street, B.A.

Where:
The Rose District
Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK
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7:30 a.m., party; 9:30 a.m., walk.

Cost: Free registration, sponsorships available, fundraising encouraged

Where:
Dietler Commons, in front of McFarlin Library
University of Tulsa
800 S. Tucker Drive
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Alzheimer's Association
Telephone: 918-392-5010
Contact Name: Leeanna Tomah
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  The Farmer’s Market Every Saturday from 8-11:30am until mid-October New live music each week, cooking demonstrations, wine, cheeses, fresh eggs, meats, honey, veggies and...

Cost: free admission

Where:
The Farm Shopping Center
51st & Sheridan
Tulsa, OK  74145
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Sponsor: The Farm Shopping Center
Telephone: 918-622-3860
Contact Name: Shelley Latta
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8:30 a.m., fun run; 9 a.m., 5K and 10K Food trucks, inflatables, music, family-friendly event Sign up at: https://runsignup.com/Race/OK/Catoosa/PortHarborDash  The 5K and 10K...

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Tulsa Port of Catoosa
5350 Cimarron Road
Catoosa, OK  74015
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Sponsor: Tulsa Port of Catoosa
Telephone: 918-202-7714
Contact Name: Sheila Shook
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Through the use of glass, beadwork, and fiber, 2016 MacArthur Fellow Joyce Scott and Sonya Clark highlight, challenge, uncover, and discover race, representation, and injustice. The project weaves...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

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Masquerade/cosplay event with food, silent auction and Batman-themed activities. Batman or movie character costumes encouraged.

Cost: $15, individuals; $25, couples

Where:
Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Broken Arrow
1400 W. Washington St.
Broken Arrow, OK
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Sponsor: Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs of Broken Arrow
Telephone: 918-406-9341
Contact Name: Sean Henry
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The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center will host an exhibition entitled “Digital Divas”, by internationally recognized Sculptor Slim Cook from September 7 to October 2, 2017 with an...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center
621 E. 4th Street
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center
Telephone: (918) 743-4297

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we have a special treat for you this month at MAINLINE!  The ever-mysterious Oklahoma artist 'thedirtyfabulous' will thrill us with a new exhibit entitled 'Shunga Superstar /...

Cost: free

Where:
MAINLINE ART BAR
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

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The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
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Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
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BUY EARLY BIRD TICKETS ONLINE NOW - ONLY $12!   Get ready for the LARGEST & MOST ASTOUNDING SHOW OF THE YEAR!! BOOBS, ACROBATS, CLOWNS, SPARKS, STUNTS, TORTURE & PLENTY O' CRAZY...

Cost: 15.00

Where:
The Fur Shop Outdoor Stage
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK  74120
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“CHALK IT UP” An Art festival, begins on September 22nd from 7pm-11pm and continues on Saturday, September 23rd from 10am-7pm.  This is a family event...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rose District
211 S. Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK  74013
View map »


Sponsor: ARTSOK, Regional Arts Alliance of Broken Arrow
Telephone: 918-688-5766
Contact Name: Alisa Inglett
Website »

More information

Come see the beautiful Sundance award-winning documentary "Unrest" for free and learn about this most common unknown illness - Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Circle Cinema
10 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Unrest in Tulsa
Contact Name: Melanie Randolph
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $10-$45

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
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At Oklahoma's largest (and grooviest) pet adoption event, find a new friend or bring one for pet contests, microchipping, vendors and services, and live music.

Where:
Riverwalk Crossing
300 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK
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Signature Symphony performs Peter Boyer's New Beginnings, Prokofiev's Piano Concerto, and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations with featured pianist Horacio Gutierrez.

Cost: $12-$37

Where:
VanTrease PACE
10300 E 81st St
Tulsa, OK
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Making plans for this weekend? You can't do better than The Drunkard & The Olio at the historic Spotlight Theater. You know you've always wanted to go, and now's your chance. And if...

Cost: Adults $20, kids $12, seniors & military $17

Where:
Spotlight Theater
1381 Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
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A big top couldn't contain this crazy, adults-only circus. See acrobats, trapese artists, burlesque, fifty shades of sideshow, and some freaky clowns.

Cost: $12

Where:
The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $45-$55

Where:
River Spirit Casino - Paradise Cove
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - LandShark Pool Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $10

Where:
Soul City
1621 E 11th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $15-$18

Where:
The Venue Shrine
112 E 18th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Ride Brookside
4133 S Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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TULtalk


How to mix new and vintage wardrobe pieces

Style mavens from the SoBo Co. and Modern Mess show us how to mix old and new.

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The girl can cook... for 12,000 hungry foodies!

Candace Conley gives us tips for making good old-fashioned fried okra before she heads off to represent Oklahoma at Flavored Nation.

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8 reasons to see Heller Shorts (according to the cast)

Heller's annual short play festival keeps even the performers on their toes, September 8-10.

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Q&A with Slim Cook

Internationally recognized sculptor returns to Tulsa with a solo exhibit.

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Video: Tulsa Garden Railoroad Club

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