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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Sunday in the Park with George follows painter Georges Seurat in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Consumed...

Cost: $25.00 for adults, $22.50 for students & seniors with ID

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

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Join us for the 59th Annual Book Fair! Saturday, February 23, 2019 8:00 am–3:00 pm Holland Hall Primary School Gym Open to the public. Tickets $1, 18 and under free. No RSVP required,...

Cost: $1

Where:
Holland Hall Primary School
5666 E. 81 St.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Sponsor: Holland Hall
Telephone: 918-481-1111
Contact Name: Heather Brasel
Website »

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The Orbit Initiative, produced by The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust, resumes its FREE community satellite adventures at seven local community centers this Saturday, January 12th, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Various
Various
Tulsa, OK  Various
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Sponsor: The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust
Telephone: 918-596-7119
Contact Name: Jeremy Stevens
Website »

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As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Pain Management Class Non-medical Treatments for Pain Non-medical treatments may be used to treat chronic pain, along with pain medicines. They might also be used alone for mild pain or...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Glenpool Library
730 E. 141st Street
Glenpool, OK  74033
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Sponsor: Success Skills
Telephone: 405-401-3519
Contact Name: Ron Watkins

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34th Chelsea International Fine Art Competition—Opens on February 5th, 2019   Agora Gallery is pleased to invite artists from across the globe to enter the 34th Annual Chelsea...

Cost: $45 entry fee for up to 5 images ($5 for each additional image)

Where:
Agora Gallery
530 W 25th St.
New York, NY  10001
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Sponsor: Agora Gallery
Telephone: +1 212-226-4151
Contact Name: Carolina Carilo
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Winter's Grace Publishing, of northeast Oklahoma, is holding its inaugural Dead of Winter Flash Fiction Contest. It opened January 1 and it closes February 28. It's open to all creative writers...

Cost: $15 per story

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Winter's Grace Publishing
Telephone: 918-852-6311
Contact Name: C.D. Smart
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Youth members of the six area Boys & Girls Clubs compete for college scholarships in the Annual Youth of the Year competition. The winners are announced at this banquet. Volunteers making a...

Cost: $75

Where:
ORU Global Learning Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: The Salvation Army
Telephone: 918-587-7801
Contact Name: Samantha Knappen
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Cocktails, dinner and program with live and silent auctions followed by a Casino and dancing.

Cost: $200 per person, sponsorships available

Where:
The Mayo Hotel
115 W. 5th Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Tulsa CASA, Inc.
Telephone: 918-584-2272
Contact Name: Paula McKay
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Dancing, cocktails, Cajun and jazz...all of the goodies that Mardi Gras has!  Come join New Hope Oklahoma in a night of Mardi Gras fun!  New Hope Oklahoma strives to end generational...

Cost: TBD

Where:
The Bond
608 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Dancing, cocktails, Cajun and jazz...all of the goodies that Mardi Gras has!  Come join New Hope Oklahoma in a night of Mardi Gras fun! New Hope Oklahoma strives to end generational incarceration,...

Cost: TBD

Where:
The Bond Event Center
608 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Cocktails, dinner and program;  silent and live auctions followed by a Casino and dancing.

Cost: $200 per person, sponsorships available

Where:
The Mayo Hotel
115 W. 5th Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa CASA, Inc.
Telephone: 918-584-2272
Contact Name: Paula McKay
Website »

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Support youth leaders emerging from Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa. Each candidate is competing for higher education scholarships. Our goal is for youth leader to be a winner and advance with...

Cost: $50 Individual Tickets and Sponsor Levels

Where:
Global Learning Center at ORU
7777 S Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa
Telephone: 918-587-7801
Contact Name: Samantha Knappen
Website »

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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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6-10:30 p.m. Southern Hills Country Club, 2636 E. 61st Street. The 2019 Lunar New Year Gala at Southern Hills Country Club will be an elegant evening of candlelight, fine dining, children’s party...

Cost: $150, individual tickets; $1,000-$25,000, sponsorships.

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st Street
Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Dillon International
Telephone: 918-748-5613
Contact Name: Marcia Graham
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COOKING UP COMPASSION FACT SHEET ABOUT THE EVENT:  Long time donors Margo and Kent Dunbar are Honorary Chairs for the event. Now in its fourteenth year, Cooking Up Compassion raises funds for the...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Ballroom at the Cox Business Center
3rd & Houston
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Sponsor: Catholic Charities
Telephone: 918-508-7115
Contact Name: Jennifer Allen
Website »

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Winterset is an annual formal event of the Osteopathic Founders Foundation which brings together the osteopathic profession and their community partners to benefit projects which improve the health...

Cost: $300

Where:
Hyatt Regency Tulsa
100 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Osteopathic Founders Foundation
Telephone: 918-551-7300
Contact Name: Michele Caine
Website »

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Sunday in the Park with George follows painter Georges Seurat in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Consumed...

Cost: $25.00 for adults, $22.50 for students & seniors with ID

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

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TULtalk


Art film meets dance at Oklahoma Dance Film Festival

This year's program features more than 20 films from around the world, presented on Sunday at the Central Library.

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2.4: #KnopeLife — Anna America

Anna America took the helm at Tulsa’s Parks and Recreation department in the fall of 2018, but she is certainly no stranger to life in the public eye.

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7 strategies to help you make the A-LIST

The competition is tough for small businesses on our annual readers' choice survey, but a few smart strategies can help you get ahead.

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“Sunday in the Park” is no walk in the park

American Theatre Company prepares for the Oklahoma premiere of the very technically challenging “Sunday in the Park with George,” Feb. 15-24

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2.3: Get that “Woo!” — Tom Basler

A conversation with dueling piano phenom Tom Basler about his many reinventions, both personal and professional.

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