Oklahoma’s State Historic Preservation Office receives grant to continue survey of All-Black Towns

Oklahoma City — The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) received a $75,000 grant from the National Park Service (NPS) to continue its historic survey of All-Black towns in Oklahoma.

African Americans who settled in Oklahoma established more than 50 identifiable All-Black towns between the end of the Civil War and 1920. https://www.okhistory.org/shpo/index) Thirteen of these towns remain today.

(https://www.nps.gov/index.htm )

Towns still surviving today are Boley, Brooksville, Clearview, Grayson, Langston, Lima, Red Bird, Rentiesville, Summit, Taft, Tatums, Tullahassee, and Vernon. A fourteenth town, IXL, is new and was incorporated in 2001. (https://www.nps.gov/index.htm )

In the early 20th century, African Americans who settled in Oklahoma established more than 50 identifiable All-Black towns between the end of the Civil War and 1920.

(https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws )

Segregation and Jim Crow laws led many Blacks to leave the state, then the Great Depression caused more to migrate to urban areas or other states. (https://www.nps.gov/subjects/historicpreservationfund/underrepresented-community-grants.htm )

These events devastated many small Oklahoma towns, including the All-Black towns. Today only 13 of these historic towns survive. The $75,000 grant for the SHPO is part of $1.2 million in federal Underrepresented Community Grants for 21 projects across the nation.

Grant recipients will survey sites and produce National Register of Historic Places nominations or amendments for diverse communities through its Underrepresented Community grant programs.

(https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm )

“Since 2014, the Underrepresented Community Grants program has provided $5.75 million to better tell the varied histories and stories of all Americans so that they may one day no longer be called underrepresented,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams.

The State Historic Preservation Office is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people.

“The black towns in Oklahoma are not only a part of Oklahoma’s rich history but also a vital partner for the future as Oklahoma continues to grow economically, educationally and most importantly a state that serves all of its citizens,” said Senator Roger Thompson, R-Okemah.

Sen. Thompson serves as co-chair of the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) oversight committee and is a member of the Finance and Rules Committees.

 For more information about this project, contact Lynda Ozan, deputy state historic preservation officer, at 405-522-4484 or lynda.ozan@history.ok.gov.

Note and Disclosure: The Oklahoma Historical Society (okhistory.org ) was founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association.  The OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the history of Oklahoma. Pat McGuigan, publisher of CapitolBeatOK.com, was previously a member of the Society, and occasionally contributed to its publications.