Starting at the End in Tulsa

We’ll drive from Denver to Tulsa starting Sunday, Oct. 20. in my ancient Honda Civic.  (If the gov’mit is still closed, we’ll sneak onto Interstate 70 and act like the federal highways are open.  Closed govt= no speed limit? Probably not, and my Civic can’t go very fast anyway.)

This leg of our long journey across the South starts with an end point.  Even though we’ve been traveling across Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas,

and even though we have a lot more terrain to cover, the Tulsa trip will represent the “official” ending of the book—because we like the symmetry of beginning in Oklahoma (in April, 2010, our first road trip there) and ending in Oklahoma, full circle.

The Trail of Tears, forced Indian relocations in the early 1800’s, tragic expulsions from ancestral homes in the Southeast into Oklahoma, ended near Tulsa.  We’ll be exploring another chapter in America’s history of ethnic cleansing, the race riots in Tulsa’s  African-American Greenwood district in 1921.  White mobs attacked the whole community, destroying a neighborhood so prosperous it was nicknamed the “Wall Street of the West.”  There was even aerial bombardment of homes and businesses, perhaps the first (and only?) attack from the air of Americans by Americans in America.

We’ll be visiting with scholars and citizens to get a sense of Tulsa’s attempts to commemorate the event.  We’ll also meet with Denver sculptor (and astronaut) Ed Dwight, who designed the Greenwood memorial.

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About Lee Patton

I'm active on three sites, lee-patton.com, for news about my published books, my blog, and bio; Stripper at the Funeral: The First Sixty Plus Poems, a collection of all my published poetry, and The South Within Us*, and on-going blog supporting our non-fiction project about exploring the American South from Westerners' point of view. *In The South Within Us, with my Denver partners Kristen Hannum and George Ware, journey across the American South for our narrative non-fiction project THE SOUTH WITHIN US: WESTERNERS EXPLORE SOUTHERN IDENTITY. Kristen and I visit every Southern state, she with her strong Southern family connections, I with few personal links to the South, as we uncover what the American South means to us and its place in our national heritage. As an African-American community activist searching for his long-lost Southern roots, George provides perspective and balance.

3 responses to “Starting at the End in Tulsa”

  1. jereco1962 says :

    Enjoy your journey, amigo. I don’t miss that region (though the last time I was in Tulsa, I saw a perfectly lovely production of “The Shadow Box”). Every cloud has its silver lining, don’tcha know.

  2. Patty says :

    “If the gov’mit is still closed….”

    “The ‘gov’mit’ is now running. Can you hear it?” [Jimmy Kimmel]

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