The Black Wall St. Times sat down with our own soldier of the modern day revolution, Orisabiyi Oyin Williams to ask for her opinion of the Brady District’s proposed name-change. Orisibiyi along with many others were instrumental in a push for the removal of the name Brady, a well known Ku Klux Klan member and White Supremacist who the district glorifies and was named after.
Nehemiah Frank: How do you feel about the long over due Brady District name change?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: Suspiciously shocked and relieved.
Nehemiah Frank: When did you start the fight to contest the name switch to the City of Tulsa?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: It was 2012.
Nehemiah Frank: What kind of barriers did you face?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: I went into the thing so naive. I just knew that it would be a no brainer once people knew who Tate Brady was, but I was so wrong. I didn’t know that hate existed like that; it was my first real experience with racism and white supremacy. Chief prepared me though, and he taught me a lot through it all. I was blessed to have Chief right by me, and it was a lot of us who were in this fight, and we all supported each other. There were death threats, we were called niggers, and you started to see people without sheets.
Nehemiah Frank: Did you anticipate the name ever changing and this soon?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: Actually, no but I knew deep down with the Centennial of the (1921 Tulsa/Greenwood Massacre) coming soon, that something would take place. How can we reach 100 years of the massacre and Tulsa still honors Tate Brady?
Nehemiah Frank: Do you think recent events in Charlottesville, Va. influenced the Brady Association to change its name?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: Yes! I do.
Nehemiah Frank: We know you, and many other North Tulsa residents had purposely chosen not to spend dollars in the area for the reason, the Brady District was named after known Klansman Tate Brady, will you spend money in the district now that the District’s name will change?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: Yes, and I must say that the reason myself and others made a conscious decision to not spend money in the Brady District was that we didn’t want to finance the legacy of Tate Brady. I will go and enjoy that area of downtown depending on what they change the name too. While I’m excited, I haven’t planned a party just yet.
Nehemiah Frank: If the decision were left up to you, what would you rename the District?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: The Arts District something to that effect.
Nehemiah Frank: The Tulsa City Council added insult to injury by renaming Brady Street, MB Brady St., do you think its time for the city’s Councilors to revisit this ill decision?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: Absolutely! NPR asked me how did I feel about that name change and I said, “Have you ever seen that white stuff that’s in chicken shit?” NPR replied, yes it has two colors in it, I said yes. It’s all chicken shit just like that name they changed it to. I am actually speaking with Vanessa Hall Harper on that now.
Nehemiah Frank: Who was Leeroy Chapman, and why was he so important to this movement?
Orisabiyi Oyin Willaims: Leeroy Chapman was a true historian. He loved history and loved teaching history. He often called himself a history “recoverist” because he always wanted to find the truth. A father who loved his son and just a regular guy.
Leeroy was so important to the Rename Brady Movement because the article he wrote, “The Nightmare of Dreamland,” unveiled the dark side of Tate Brady. People here in Tulsa were upset before we even started and so much so, they blackballed Leeroy because of that article. Leeroy tried on his own to change the name, but he got nowhere. He went to Black folks he knew, and they were too scared to touch it. One day, Chief and I went to This Land to get the article to read, and no one was available to help us. Chief yelled, “Helloooooooooooooo anyone hereeeee?” All of a sudden, Leeroy popped up, he looked like a crazy man who just woke up. A conversation started, and we ended up staying there longer than an hour, and then history began.
Nehemiah Frank: If your friend Leeroy Chapman were alive today, what do you think he would say about this moment in Tulsa history?
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams: Leeroy would have been happy for us, and he would have said that’s a start. Leeroy had a list of things he wanted the city to do which was
1.) Put up some type of monument or plaque that told the truth about Tate Brady
2.) He wanted the Tulsa World to correct its articles that never mentioned Tate Brady’s involvement with the Klan; it still hasn’t.
3.) Leeroy wanted the Oklahoma Historical Society to amend the history of Tate Brady, and that still hasn’t happened even with the documentation that has proved the dark side of Tate Brady.
Look for Orisabiyi William’s exclusive article on Tate Brady which will reveal some timeless documents on Tate Brady’s White Supremacist past with the Ku Klux Klan.