Unified Voice: The Greater Tulsa African-American Affairs Commission

With 23 seats, the commission is an advisory committee to the City of Tulsa, mayor and city council, with the goal to address pressing issues and promote unity, cooperation, historical preservation and development.



Members of the Greater Tulsa African-American Affairs Commission include, seated, Vice Chairwoman Kristi Williams, Margaret Love, Bill White, Maybelle Wallace, Alicia Latimer, and standing, Cassia Carr, Reggie Ivey, Weldon Tisdale, Kojo Asamoa-Caesar, Burlinda Radney, Chairman Thomas Boxley, Eddie Evans, Darryl Bright, Harriette Scott Dudley, Lauren Oldham, Dewayne Dickens, Devin Fletcher, Carlisha Williams

Years of work and diligence became reality this past December when the Greater Tulsa African-American Affairs Commission convened for the first time.

Tulsa has had commissions for Hispanic Affairs, Indian Affairs and Women for years. Citizens had long requested the creation of an African-American Affairs Commission.

“Everyone said, ‘Absolutely it should have been done a long time ago,’” says Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper. “I then made the request in writing on behalf of my community to the City of Tulsa’s human rights department and to Mayor (Dewey) Bartlett. I kept the community informed and engaged and provided leadership in how to fight for what is right.

“Frederick Douglass said, ‘Power concedes nothing without demand.’ We stood in our truth and refused to be quieted.”

With 23 seats, the commission is an advisory committee to the City of Tulsa, mayor and city council, with the goal to address pressing issues and promote unity, cooperation, historical preservation and development, according to the City of Tulsa Human Rights Office.

The commission has met monthly since December. Priorities have included bylaw resolution, developing a strategic plan and creating a series of committees. Helming the commission are Chairman Thomas Boxley and Vice Chairwoman Kristi Williams. They sit on the commission with other community activists and mayor-appointed representatives from local organizations.

“I don’t want this to be a commission in name only,” Boxley says. “I want to set goals, and I want to accomplish them. I want success.”

TulsaPeople asked the commissioners to share their thoughts on the most important issues facing the African-American community in Tulsa and how the commission plans to help.

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Kojo Asamoa-Caesar, 31

Founding principal, Greenwood Leadership Academy

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? How do we serve as a truly representative voice of our community and engage people in meaningful ways so they not only feel heard, but have confidence that their concerns will be given due consideration at the table of power?

What do you see as this commission’s potential? We have the potential to synthesize the concerns and issues in our community and present them to the Mayor’s office in a coherent and palatable way so as to increase the likelihood of meaningful action to address those concerns and issues.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? Our greatest strength is that our community is hungry for a commission like this and that drives significant engagement from constituents and a desire to help the commission carry out its duties.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? At the end of six months, if we have a solid strategic plan in place and the community at-large understands our purpose and plan and we’ve given ample opportunity for people to engage with the commission and give their feedback as well as provide input, and we’ve taken concrete and meaningful actions towards implementing what is in our strategic plan and we’ve achieved one or two recognizable wins — that would represent a good six-month start.

How has the community responded to the commission? The African-American community has been glad to see that a commission that was long overdue has finally been established. I think they are hopeful that this can be a catalyst for driving positive and meaningful change in our community, but they’re also not just going to sit around and wait to see what happens. They want to get involved, they want to attend our meetings and testify, they want to be on subcommittees and propose solutions to our most pressing challenges.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? This commission is good for all of Tulsa. As the African-American community goes, so goes the whole city of Tulsa.

What do you love about Tulsa? The resilience of the people. We are an eternally hopeful people and we have our eyes set on the future and intend on winning it.

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Thomas Boxley, 45

Marketing/PR official with OU Physicians and founder, the Institute of Developing Communities; commission chairman

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? There are several issues that the commission will need to address within the African-American diaspora in the Greater Tulsa area — everything from small business contracting opportunities with the City and State to policing and criminal justice reform. These issues will be addressed via input from community members and organized action depending upon the issue at hand. There are some issues and problems that we will not be able to effectively address given our role, responsibility and vested powers but we will work to identify solutions to problems that exist within the African-American community.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? The commission has the potential to provide a voice and point-of-connection for the citizens of this city of African-American descent that have experienced a sense of disenfranchisement.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The strength of the commission lies within the diversity of its members. There is a diverse age range and professional makeup that has been convened to participate.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? I would like to see the infrastructure developed that will guide the work of the commission in the first three to five years, as well as for the commissioners to develop a close working relationship with one another. Both are extremely important when you bring a large group of people together that have not really had an opportunity to work together.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? That the body will work to address issues that will strengthen Tulsa as a whole.

What do you love about Tulsa? The pride that Tulsans have in the community that we call home.   

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Cassia C. Carr, 31

Attorney; representative for the Tulsa Economic Development Corp.

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? The most important issue facing the commission is how to use the forum to foster trust between the black community and the City of Tulsa. We will plan to address this issue by being present in the community and following through with our promises.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? To shed light on issues that have been overlooked in the past.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? A seamless procedure for hearing issues from the community and addressing them.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? That it exists and we are here to serve the people of Tulsa.

What do you love about Tulsa? I love Tulsa’s diversity and its philanthropic vibe.

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Dewayne Dickens, 52

Tulsa Community College professor; representative for the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? Disproportionate access to quality community resources within North Tulsa is the most important issue facing the commission. For example, we do have food,   retail and educational opportunities within the northern part of the city. However, we do not have an equitable selection of food, retail and educational locations for these resources that represent the economic contributions of the citizens within the area. Specifically, having limited food access in a Grade C store is not the same as having varied food selection in a Grade A or B store. The same applies when citizens have Grade C retail and educational experiences compared to their southside residents who have more options for Grade A and B experiences in their communities. 

In response to these inequities that are part of a systemic pattern in Tulsa, my plan is to work with my fellow commissioners and Tulsa’s citizens to identify ways to counter the systemic policies and inaction that have allowed for unbalanced funding of economic development within north Tulsa compared to south Tulsa. My plan is to work with the community and involve the community in determining the best approach to right years of inequitable support, while also inspiring self-sustained entrepreneurship and business plans that sustain the northside community.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? The commission has an opportunity to provide more transparency of the government’s actions and plans to improve the potential for African Americans in Tulsa. The commission can channel the concerns of the community by bringing forward what appear to be the most pressing issues expressed by the community, but also the factual evidence that supports expressed concerns. The commission can serve as a bridge to connect the community members to the government leaders who need to know both combined and individual concerns of the community members — recognizing that a community has both collective and divergent needs that need to be addressed.  The commission has collective and divergent points of view that serve merely as a starting point for the collective and divergent wishes of the community.  Our points of view should lead us to seek out the many perspectives that exist in our community so that more voices can inform the decision making that happens within Tulsa’s legislative leadership areas.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The commission has a great strength in the diversity of its perspectives, representation and connection to the community. While these are strengths, the important strategy for the commission is to use these recognized strengths to tap into the community members who they are connected with as sounding boards and as the members they advocate for when working within commission activities.  When I consider how perspective, representation and connection work together, my understanding is that our No. 1 goal is to be involved with and listen to the community, and bring forward important trends that emerge based on what has been heard. And since our commissioners are of varied perspectives, representation, and connections within the community, the strength of this diversity will allow more voices to be brought forward while the commission does its work.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? The six-month mark is not far away, so by-laws have been established, and the commission is working on ways to get to know one another and establish better ways of communication with the citizens of Tulsa — particularly the African-American community members, whether in north Tulsa or any part of the Tulsa area. I would like to focus on how we hear from these community members through a variety of mechanisms.  Some people will come to commission meetings, some will post comments through social media or email, while others will remain silent publicly but have many ideas they express in more intimate settings. One of my major concerns will be how we solicit feedback from not only the highly vocal community members of Tulsa on African-American affairs, but also what approaches can we make as part of our Strategic Plan that allows us to bring forward the voices of the less vocal community members.

How has the community responded to the commission? The community has provided a positive, encouraging response that is balanced with cautious optimism. Tulsa’s African-American community has had many empty promises that have not always been followed through with, so the commission gives hope that this time the City will listen and respond in good faith. The Tulsa community is watching. Other cities across the country are watching. Everyone wants to know if we can live up to the potential of our City’s values to advance the needs of all of Tulsa. People are watching to see if we will do the right thing based on serving all of Tulsa and not just certain pockets of the Tulsa community. We are all part of this test of trust. If the commission can walk this quite delicate line that reconciles past deeds of distrust through new approaches that empower African-American communities along with other Tulsa communities, I believe the community will be pleasantly assured that a new page of Tulsa history has been turned and will serve as a true model for future generations.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? The commission wants to hear from you, partner with you, and advocate for what matters to you. We want every community in Tulsa to be better, be empowered and be connected. We understand that each part of Tulsa has a ripple effect on all of the other parts, so we want the good ripples in communities of Tulsa to be replicated and strengthened (through any efforts we can foster), and we want the ineffective and damaging ripples to be countered, extinguished and repaired.

What do you love about Tulsa? I love Tulsa because no other city can capture such a deep history of people who have a genuine heart to help others and dream for a better tomorrow in spite of repeated tragedy.  Tulsans do not claim perfection, but they do claim resilience. Tulsans do not give up due to adversity; instead, Tulsans band together to survive while they reach higher goals and bring others along as they advance. The commission is an example of how Tulsans are striving to reach higher for our communities — while elevating every community and individual along the way.

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Harriette Scott Dudley, 49

Tulsa Community College dean

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? For me it is a tie between building trust between the African-American community and local government/leaders and engaging the entire community in action that will improve the quality of life for African Americans in Tulsa, specifically, people of color, generally, and ultimately for all people in Tulsa.      

How do you plan to address that issue? By following the leadership of Chairman Boxley, using my experience, skills and talents when and where they are requested/required, and staying focused, consistent, positive and engaged.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? This commission’s potential is limitless. I am always amazed when I hear the voices around the table. I believe we have the capacity to accomplish all that the community expects of us and more. However, we can’t do it alone and we certainly can’t sustain it alone.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The diversity among the commissioners. We all identify as African American and yet we have very different perspectives, backgrounds, experiences and ideas for accomplishing the goals of the commission.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? A strategic plan with outcomes and timelines.

How has the community responded to the commission? Wow! I would say the community has responded with a long list of expectations, a warning that we are being watched and held accountable, lots of advice and historical perspectives, and love…lots of love.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? We meet the second Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. in City Hall. Come see us, pray with and for us, and join us in this work. We are here to listen, learn, and act.

What do you love about Tulsa? The history and the potential of the city to do great things.

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Eddie L. Evans, 70

Director (retired), Youth Services of Tulsa; president of the 100 Black Men of Tulsa Inc.

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? The deficiencies presenting themselves to the African-American community. Plan to become involved in the resolution process.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? To provide input that can/will be considered by the Tulsa city government.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? Access to the Mayor and City Council.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? An established relationship with the African-American community.

How has the community responded to the commission? Appears to accept the need for the commission, but has many questions.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? That it intends to be affective and be a voice for the community.

What do you love about Tulsa? The people and the love/passion they have for the community in which they live.

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Devin Fletcher, 32

Chief learning and chief talent officer, Tulsa Public Schools

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? There has been a long history of systemic inequity, disenfranchisement and a betrayal of trust within our community. We must ensure that we don’t become paralyzed by the challenges but ignited by the opportunities.  We are going to listen, we are going to prioritize, and we are going to get to work.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? I believe that we have an opportunity to:

  • understand what our community is saying;
  • develop an agenda that pushes for investment in high quality reforms and initiatives;
  • underscore the inequalities that exist but truly elevating and celebrating our many successes as a community; and
  • promote the urgency of “now.”

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The commission’s greatest strength is the diverse group of leaders that make up the commission that are all coming together with a collective commitment to serve the community above our individual beliefs. 

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? I would like the commission to have a strong platform of concerns that have come from and have been vetted by the community that we are all collectively working on addressing.

How has the community responded to the commission? The community is excited about the potential of the commission and the promise that it represents. This committee represents progress and hopefulness that true change is possible.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? The commission is committed whole-heartedly to representing voice of the entire community. We are servants first and foremost and understand that our role is to ensure that we are elevating the voice from the community and not our own.

What do you love about Tulsa? I love the spirit of the Tulsa community and the commitment to collectively work together to address systemic social change.

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Raganald (Reggie) Ivey, 48

Chief operating officer, Tulsa City-County Health Department; representative for the North Tulsa Community Coalition

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? This is a difficult question to answer with a single response, as there are a multitude of issues facing the commission. The commission is charged with examining and defining issues pertaining to the rights and needs of African-Americans, and making recommendations to the Mayor for changes that are necessary to create a sense of one Tulsa. If I were to choose one issue that could be most challenging for the commission, it would be ensuring historical accuracy and requiring that the truth be told about the African-American experience in Tulsa, especially as it relates to the 1921 Race Riot.

How do you plan to address that issue? It is important for the commission to encourage the inclusion of the truth of Tulsa’s history as relates to the 1921 Race Riot. For Tulsa to heal and truly reconcile, we can no longer hide history, but must speak to how the residue from such a tragedy impacts the lives of African Americans today. The impact of historical trauma continues to affect the lives of African Americans and other marginalized groups. Furthermore, systematic social inequities and institutional biases in areas such as the criminal justice system, educational system, corporations and neighborhood conditions continue to negatively impact African Americans and others. The commission’s strategic plan will be the guide that will help us address these issues.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? The commission is an organized body that can advise and share pertinent information with City leaders in an organized and unified format that involves a wide range of community voices. 

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The diversity of the commission is its greatest strength. Four generations are represented on the commission: Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists. Additionally, there is almost an equal balance of genders and a wide range of professions. Although there are many unique perspectives, there is also a singular goal to make Tulsa better.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? By the six-month mark, the commission hopes to have a clearly defined strategic plan in place. Additionally, we anticipate a high level of community involvement by this point.

How has the community responded to the commission? The community is excited to see the development of the commission. However, the commission has been challenged to ensure that broad community feedback and input is sought.   

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? The members of the commission are committed to bringing viable recommendations and solutions forward to improve the lives of African Americans in Tulsa and surrounding communities.  

What do you love about Tulsa? Tulsa is a great city to raise a family. The cost of living is reasonable and housing is affordable. Tulsa is a beautiful city, with a developing downtown. There are unique amenities, such as Gilcrease Museum, Philbrook Museum, the Greenwood Cultural Center, BOK Center, Drillers Stadium and the Tulsa Zoo. Tulsa also has a variety of post-secondary educational opportunities. Although Tulsa has some challenges, it gives me hope that we are having conversations about race relations, reconciliation and disparities broadly as a City. I believe it is possible for Tulsa to become a City that appreciates all of its citizens.

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Margaret M. Love, 75

Retired social worker; adjunct professor at Langston University. Love is one of four individuals who contacted former Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. requesting to form the African-American Affairs Commission.

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? I dare to say the most important, as all issues are important. Some of the top issues would be education, economic development and criminal justice to name a few.

How do you plan to address that issue? One by one as this is a continuous process.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? The potentials are many, but our primary goal is to act in an advisory capacity to the greater Tulsa area to encourage and promote unity, purpose and understanding among the African-American people.

What do you consider to be the Commission’s greatest strength? The ability to make recommendations to city government in hopes to facilitate equity.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? Once we begin to make recommendations the continued support of the City Council and Mayor.

How has the community responded to the commission? Overwhelmingly well. This has been a long time coming and the community is excited about and willing to participate in this great process as needed as they see this commission and finally having a voice.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? That we are advocates for the African-American population, as well as supportive of the overall city in general.

What do you love about Tulsa? The expectation of possible growth and cultural competence among the city leaders. 

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Lauren Oldham, 27

Attorney

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? Economic and health disparities for Tulsa’s African-American residents. Through our role as advocates and advisors to the Mayor and other city officials, we can address these issues by utilizing research and community input to develop targeted programming relating to these issues.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? The commission has the potential to be a hub for community resources and engagement. Through community organization, the commission can be the focal point for addressing concerns affecting Tulsa’s African-American community.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The diverse age, backgrounds, and experiences of the commissioners, which will lead to diverse ideas, actions and solutions from the commission.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? Establish open and consistent lines of communication with the community through which the commission can provide information.

How has the community responded to the commission? Community response has been positive. The community has long-awaited a commission that addresses their needs and advocates on their behalf to the City and elected officials.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? The commission is dedicated to understanding and resolving community needs through its advisory and advocacy role to the City.

What do you love about Tulsa? Philanthropic community, Black Wall Street, and the food and bar scene.

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Burlinda Radney, 55

Realtor and geophysicist; representative for the Business and Agents Networking Group 

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? The African-American community of Tulsa faces a crisis in education as we confront persistently unsatisfactory elementary, intermediate and secondary school achievement. This issue directly impacts efforts to narrow the African-American wealth gap and to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline that too many Black children fall into. 

How do you plan to address that issue? In the first year, the commission will focus on establishing a committee-based structure to link leaders and innovators in the community with commissioners in order to establish and empower citizens with a structure to strategize, develop and implement issue specific action plans to redress concerns in the community.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? The commission can become a vehicle that operates as a resource hub for community advocacy, economic development and strategic planning for the future. 

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The diversity of talents, experience and community interests in the appointed commissioners is the greatest strength of this board. 

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? I expect to have contributed toward the creation of a strategic plan for improving K-3 attainment, improving home ownership and access to quality housing and continuation of Councilor (Vanessa) Hall-Harper’s efforts to support prison reentry/employment development for convicted felons.

How has the community responded to the commission? I am pleased to report an enthusiastic response, from most if not all.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? The GTAAAC was founded as a consensus driven body focused on creating the foundations for African-Americans success in the Tulsa community.

What do you love about Tulsa? Tulsa is blessed with a history of diversity and success in all of its diverse communities. I look forward to contributing to creating an equally rich and successful future for Tulsa’s citizens.

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Kuma Roberts, 43

Executive director of talent attraction, retention and Mosaic, Tulsa Regional Chamber

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? The most important issue facing the commission is how to best unify the African-American community toward one vision/voice. The community is fragmented and the commission has to address that challenge.

How do you plan to address that issue? I think understanding the role each of us will have as representatives of all African Americans in the greater Tulsa area will help inform why we are each motivated to serve in this capacity and honoring those motivations through compromise for the betterment of the community.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? If we can begin to leverage and communicate one voice/a unified vision for our community we can make significant changes to education, health, economic development and empowerment while educating the others on just how far we’ve come since the 1921 Race Massacre.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The diversity and passion of those who are serving. Each brings a crucial piece to unlocking the puzzle of how to make our community better.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? I think clarity of intention, vision and show of unity will be a huge accomplishment and would be important for the African-American community to see and witness.

How has the community responded to the commission? I’m not sure the community is aware that the commission is active and ready to engage with them. Turnout at meetings has been the same few people who represent a fraction of those we serve. My hope is that once we can begin to communicate effectively we can have more community response to our presence and to our work. Seeing and hearing from a wider variety of individuals representing our community will be very important in guiding our work.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? The Greater Tulsa African-American Affairs Commission has been a long time coming. The community has been disenfranchised for far too long and it will take all Tulsans to acknowledge and address the very real and pressing issues that face the African-American community and why these challenges still exist.

What do you love about Tulsa? I love Tulsa because it’s a place where anyone who is passionate, committed and engaged can make an impact. It’s on the verge of making strides toward ensuring ALL of its citizens are entitled to a quality of life that rival other cities. I’m excited to play a small part of that.

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Weldon Tisdale

Senior pastor, Friendship Church

What do you see as this commission’s potential? I see the potential as great.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The diverse talent of the commission.

How has the community responded to the commission? Too early to say. However, there has been some positive response from individuals.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? That we exist to bring awareness and proposed solutions to the most important issues facing African Americans in Tulsa.

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Maybelle Wallace, 88

Executive director, Theatre North

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? I consider the most important issue facing the commission is the economic disparity between African Americans and the majority population of Tulsa. I plan on addressing this issue by identifying the major factors that impact the economic differences of Tulsans and working with individuals and groups to implement workable strategies to improve economic conditions for African Americans.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? I see the Commission as having great potential, as the voice of the African-American community, to bring about positive change.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The commission’s greatest strength is the people we represent. The commission, as a collective, has a great desire to represent the African-American community to build stronger resources and relationships within and without the community.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? To have a written out strategic plan with achievable goals.

How has the community responded to the commission? The response has been fantastic; the feedback I have received has been extremely enthusiastic and positive.

What do you want Tulsan’s to know about the commission? The commission seeks to help the African-American community fulfill its potential which will improve the city of Tulsa, overall.

What do you love about Tulsa? This is my home, where I am rooted, it is where everything I love most resides.

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Bill White, 48

Director of development, Greenwood Cultural Center

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? Moving the African-American community, as a whole, positively forward. In all honesty, I can’t say there is one issue that is more important than the other. Some of it depends on where you live, but I do see several reoccurring themes: police interaction, education, employment opportunities, few, if any, African Americans in decision making positions in the City, etc.

How do you plan to address that issue? I believe the 1968 Kerner Report is a great template for starters. The wheel does not need to be reinvented — maybe re-applied or used differently.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? Unlimited, if we focus on “all of Tulsa’s African-American Community” — not just north. But with that being said, if we get things right in north Tulsa, the other parts of the City will be much easier to fix and change.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The ability to spotlight changes that other cities have implemented years ago and see their positive results.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? The ability to listen and allow the commission to hear the community.

How has the community responded to the commission? The community has been engaged and I look forward to us addressing “real issues” and not just being professional Tulsa “Talkers.”

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? The work that the commission does and will do is to make Tulsa and its citizens better. We want citizen engagement and not just when there are “Hot” issues.

What do you love about Tulsa? Tulsa has history.

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Carlisha Williams, 33

Executive director, Tulsa Legacy Charter School

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? There are many topics of pressing concern for African Americans in the city of Tulsa, such as education, criminal justice, economic development, health care and more. The intersectionality of these issues makes it difficult to place one area of focus above the other. There are systemic changes that must be made for the African-American community to progress in our city. The Commission is a vehicle to strategize, organize and advocate on behalf of our community.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? I see the potential of the commission to be an instrumental group of leaders who identifies needs, strategizes, organizes and advocates to advance the African-American community in the city of Tulsa.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives on the commission. It is an honor to be a part of a team of dynamic leaders with a passion to serve our city.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? Our commission has a lot of foundational work to do as we are just getting started. However, at the six-month mark, I would like for the commission to have identified our target areas of focus and built community committees meeting to build aspects of our strategic plan for solutions and community supports.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? We want the community to be engaged with the commission by attending our meetings, joining our committees, providing feedback and ideas. The commission desires to do this work alongside our community. We are here to serve and represent the needs of the community.

What do you love about Tulsa? I love the opportunities our city provides to young professionals looking to make and be a part of positive change.

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Kristi Williams, 42

Health care billing specialist and political consultant; representative for the Tulsa African Ancestral Society; commission vice chairwoman

What’s the most important issue facing the commission? How do you plan to address that? The most important issue facing the commission is building viable sustainable communities for African Americans throughout Tulsa. How do we do that? We do that through addressing financial literacy, correcting the system of unequal justice, fostering accountable community-center policing, creating adequate and affordable neighborhoods, access to well-paying jobs, economic prosperity and access to health care and well-being. Addressing all of those will birth viable sustainable communities.

What do you see as this commission’s potential? The commission has a great potential to enlighten and empower African Americans throughout Tulsa by reintroducing our rich history and culture through shared values and principles that we lost in between generations.

What do you consider to be the commission’s greatest strength? The commission’s greatest strength is organization.

At the six-month mark, what would you like to have the commission accomplish? Being that we are a new commission who just completed our bylaws in March, we are now beginning to structure our strategic plan. We are just getting started but I would like for the commission to have accomplished creating a sense of unity among African Americans in this city.

How has the community responded to the commission? So far, I believe the community has responded well to the commission but yet skeptical of how we can positively impact the lives of African Americans throughout this city based on their experiences of being disfranchised and oppressed. They are also looking to see how our Mayor will work with this commission.

What do you want Tulsans to know about the commission? In the words of Dr. King, “the line of progress is never straight.” I want Tulsans to know that this commission is 50-60 years behind and it will take time to catch up to the work that other commissions has done in the communities they serve. However, we will be dedicated and diligent on creating solutions to the problems that affects us as a people. Once we can solve problems that we as African Americans face, it creates a better Tulsa for us all.

What do you love about Tulsa? What I love about Tulsa is that it has one of the most elaborate detailed blueprint for success and turning pain into purpose, “Black Wall Street and Greenwood.” When we talk about Black Wall Street and Greenwood most of us think of the Massacre of 1921. We totally miss how it thrived before the massacre and how Black Wall Street and Greenwood was rebuilt after the Massacre. The spirit of those ancestors are so strong here. The road has been paved, a blank canvas exists for us not only to create our own success but to be the reality of those ancestors dreams. I absolutely love that.

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A-LIST 2018: Editors' Picks

Our editors got in on the fun, too. We called out our picks for Dine Local, Fun, Services, Shop Local and Head to Toe.

Empty lot is now home to a massive bronze pig

The striking sculpture is bringing life and interest to a midtown Tulsa pocket park.

Travers Mahan makes shopping a special experience

This upscale menswear store provides much more than fine quality clothing.
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September 2019

ATTENTION ELEPHANT LOVERS! Have you ever wanted to spend the day with an elephant? Now you can! Due to a great deal of public interest, the Oklahoma Awesome Adventures is partnering with the...

Cost: $400

Where:
Oklahoma Awesome Adventures
2657 E 2070 Rd
Hugo, OK  74743
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Awesome Adventures
Telephone: 580-743-5849
Contact Name: Emily
Website »

More information

Join us on September 22nd at 10:00 a.m. for Uptown 23rd’s fun run through the tree-lined streets of historic Mesta Park and Heritage Hills Historic Neighborhood Oklahoma City. The official...

Cost: $30-40

Where:
Uptown 23rd District
Uptown 23rd District
Oklahoma city, OK  73103
View map »


Telephone: 405-200-5848
Contact Name: Riley Cole
Website »

More information

Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

The Home Remodeling Showcase is the premier showcase of newly remodeled homes in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.  Presented by the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Greater...

Cost: 10

Where:
Spread throughout Metro Tulsa
, OK


Sponsor: Pella Windows of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-663-5820
Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

The Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa invites the public to come celebrate its annual Buddy Walk on Sunday September 22nd, 2019. The Buddy Walk Event will be 1:30-4:00 PM at Holland Hall...

Cost: Free

Where:
Holland Hall School
5666 E. 81st St.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Sponsor: Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-804-3728
Website »

More information

Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
Website »

More information

In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

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Think you can’t do something? Think again! Step outside your comfort zone and try something new at the I Can’t workshops. The fall lineup includes crowd favorites as well as some new...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong
Website »

More information

In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

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Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

NSUBA RiverHawk Run 5K Tuesday, Sept. 24 – 6 p.m. $25 early signup, $35 after Aug 16, kids 12 & under free. 3100 E. New Orleans St., Broken Arrow, OK 74014 Invite your...

Cost: $25/$35 after Aug. 16

Where:
NSUBA Campus
3100 E New Orleans Ave
Broken Arrow, OK  74014
View map »


Website »

More information

In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

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Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

DivorceCare is a faith based, 13-week support program to help you through the after-effects of divorce. The DVD teaching includes topics such as understanding the hurt, dealing with anger,...

Cost: $15

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Asbury LifeCare Ministry
Telephone: 918-392-1146
Contact Name: Ruth Winn
Website »

More information

Whether you are remarried or planning to remarry, discover the key steps to building a healthy stepfamily with expert Ron Deal, using his Smart Stepfamily book and participant guide. Through eight...

Cost: 0

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Sponsor: Asbury United Methodist Church
Telephone: 918-392-1146
Contact Name: Ruth Winn
Website »

More information

Why walk through grief alone when you can participate in GriefShare’s highly acclaimed 13-week video-based support group with others experiencing the same? This group offers a comfortable...

Cost: $15

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Sponsor: Asbury LifeCare Ministry
Telephone: 918-392-1146
Contact Name: Ruth Winn
Website »

More information

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

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Started by husband-and-wife team Matthew and Kelsey McAfee _ graduates of ORU and TU, respectively, _ the bookstore, named Eleanor's Bookshop, will carry books with unique perspectives that...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mother Road Market
1124 S. Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

The Champions of Health Gala celebrates people and organizations that are making a positive impact on the health of our state through innovative programs. The proceeds from the evening benefit The...

Cost: $100/ticket

Where:
Cox Business Center
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: The Oklahoma Caring Foundation
Telephone: 918-551-2164
Contact Name: Ellen Devereux
Website »

More information

Organizations making a positive impact on the health of Oklahomans will be honored at the 2019 Champions of Health Gala at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26 at Cox Business Center in Tulsa. To make a...

Cost: 100

Where:
Cox Business Center
100 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Contact Name: Ellen Devereux

More information

Pop-acoustic worship group I AM THEY is announcing plans to headline The Trial & Triumph Tour this fall during the month of September with special guests Dan Bremnes and Elle Limebear....

Cost: (prices vary)

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Mabee Center Marketing
Website »

More information

Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party is Coming to Tulsa, OK, September 26 - 29 Bringing the Magic Closer to Fans than Ever Before TULSA, OK — Create unforgettable...

Cost: $15, $20, $30, $35, $40, $45

Where:
Expo Square Pavilion
4145 East 21st
Tulsa State Fair
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Sponsor: Feld Entertainment
Telephone: 918-798-3655
Contact Name: Kasey Littlefield

More information

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Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

Get your wheels in motion and join us for our 6th Annual CF Cycle for Life NIGHT RIDE! Participants will start the evening at our Get Lit tent, getting their glow on, and gearing up to ride along...

Cost: $150 Fundraising Minimum

Where:
River Spirit Casino
, OK


Sponsor: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Telephone: 918-744-6354
Contact Name: April Mitchell

More information

Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

More information

The Tasting at Woodward Park is an elegant fundraising gala that matches upscale wines with delectable hors d’oeuvres to provide a stimulating culinary experience, all while enjoying leisurely...

Cost: $150 for members, $175 for non-members

Where:
Woodwark Park
2435 S Peoria Ave
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Garden Center
Telephone: 918-576-5155
Contact Name: Laura Chalus
Website »

More information

Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party is Coming to Tulsa, OK, September 26 - 29 Bringing the Magic Closer to Fans than Ever Before TULSA, OK — Create unforgettable...

Cost: $15, $20, $30, $35, $40, $45

Where:
Expo Square Pavilion
4145 East 21st
Tulsa State Fair
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Sponsor: Feld Entertainment
Telephone: 918-798-3655
Contact Name: Kasey Littlefield

More information

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A half-marathon, 5k, and one-mile fun run along Tulsa's scenic River Trails to raise funds and awareness to both celebrate cancer  survivors and help eradicate breast cancer.

Cost: Half: $70; 5k: $35

Where:
River Spirit Casino Resort
8330 Riverside Parkway
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Sponsor: River Spirit Casino Resort
Telephone: 918-914-9039
Contact Name: Pamela Ballard
Website »

More information

A half-marathon, 5k, and one-mile fun run along Tulsa's scenic River Trails to raise funds and awareness to both celebrate cancer  survivors and help eradicate breast cancer.

Cost: Half: $70; 5k: $35

Where:
River Spirit Casino Resort
8330 Riverside Parkway
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Sponsor: River Spirit Casino Resort
Telephone: 918-914-9039
Contact Name: Pamela Ballard
Website »

More information

It's a 5k run or 1 mile walk with a twist. See all the historic churches in downtown Tulsa while participating in the Rosary! Children can listen to the Fatima story as parents participate in...

Cost: 30

Where:
Holy Family Cathedral
122 W 8th St
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: St. Michael Catholic Radio
Telephone: 918-260-3617
Contact Name: Tricia Schittler
Website »

More information

We’re excited to announce that New York Times best-selling author Amy Stewart will be our guest speaker for our fourth annual literary brunch on Saturday, September 28, starting at...

Cost: Cost is $65 for Garden members; $75 for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

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
View map »


Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

More information

The Drunken Botanist at OK Distilling Company. Amy Stewart’s New York Times best-seller, The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World's Great Drinks, is a favorite of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Oklahoma Distilling Company
1724 E 7th St.
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Website »

More information

Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

More information

As the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally,   Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the romantic era’s finest composers. Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony...

Cost: $20-$42

Where:
VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education
10300 E 81st St
Tulsa, OK  74133-4513
View map »


Sponsor: Signature Symphony at TCC
Telephone: 918-595-7768
Contact Name: Tabitha Littlefield
Website »

More information

Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party is Coming to Tulsa, OK, September 26 - 29 Bringing the Magic Closer to Fans than Ever Before TULSA, OK — Create unforgettable...

Cost: $15, $20, $30, $35, $40, $45

Where:
Expo Square Pavilion
4145 East 21st
Tulsa State Fair
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Sponsor: Feld Entertainment
Telephone: 918-798-3655
Contact Name: Kasey Littlefield

More information

Back by popular demand, we've found some more wild and crazy stories told by the funniest people in Tulsa! Blue Whale Comedy Fest and Story Club of Tulsa present "Offbeat: Crazy and...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
Duet Jazz Club
108 N. DETROIT AVENUE
Tulsa, OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Story Club of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

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What's New


Philbrook garden cats star in new book

Written and illustrated by Tulsa native Katie Turner, “The Cat Who Got Framed” will release on September 13.

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Up with People comes to Tulsa

An international travel program will donate more than 1,000 hours to local nonprofits.

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The Mitchell family is truly paying it forward

Spherexx set aside over $60,000 in gift cards for the company’s Pay it Forward program for team members to better their community.

Comments: 1

Can this ancient game help to fight Alzheimer's?

In June, Mah Jongg for Memories events across the country raised more than $50,000 collectively for the Alzheimer’s Association.

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3.02: Getting Schooled — Dr. Deborah Gist

A conversation with Dr. Deborah Gist, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, about the new school year and managing one of the state's largest public school districts with low funding.

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