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Photo Credit BWSTimes
By Nehemiah D. Frank
TULSA ― On Saturday, May 23, hundreds of people from across the United States descended upon the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District for the 21st Anniversary of the Black Wall Street Memorial March organized by the African Ancestral Society.
The organizers paid homage to the massacre victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. (Notably, the Tulsa Race Massacre has been controversially referred to as the Tulsa Race Riot.) And community members were invited to participate in this Tulsa tradition of showing ancestral appreciation through song, poetry, dance, drumming and marching.
Photo Credit BWSTimes | Artist Salako Amusan (center) and her mother Chief Ifaronke Amusan pay homage to their ancestors through song
“It is more than a march. It is an organic preservationist movement. It ensures continuity between past and present,” said Chief Egunwale, leader of the African Ancestral Society.
Every year, the Society honors citizens and elected officials whom it deems worthy of recognition.
It recognized four individuals this year.
Greg Robinson II of the MET Cares Foundation was the recipient of the Black Wall Street Service Award. Robinson, recognized for his leadership ability and unwavering commitment to building community, cultivates and invigorates the spirit of Black Wall Street in his work today.
Photo Credit BWSTimes | Chief Egunwale (left) with awardee, Greg Robinson (right)
D’Marria Monday, recipient of the Humanitarian Award, saves pregnant incarcerated women from having to be shackled during labor. This local community leader and State Rep. Regina Goodwin are co-signers for monumental HB 3393.
Photo Credit BWSTimes | From right to left: State Rep. Regina Goodwin, Community Leader D’Marria Monday, City Councilwoman Vanessa Hall-Harper, and Chief Egunwale
Orisabiyi Oyin Williams, founding managing editor of the Black Wall Street Times, vice president of the African American Affairs Commission and member of the African Ancestral Society, was the recipient of the Spirit Award.
Photo Credit BWSTimes |From left to right Chief Ifalola Fagbenro, Orisabiyi Oyin Williams, Chief Olufemi Aje Amusan, and Chief Ifaronke Amusan
“Orisabiyi has catapulted the Society as an honorary member, and took the task and ran with it,” said Chief Egunwale, as Williams received her award. He also added that she “always represents as an unapologetic African.”
And last but not least, City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper was the recipient of the Leadership Award. The councilwoman has a long list of wins for the north Tulsa community:
1. Fighting for justice for the Crutcher Family
2. Founding the African American Affairs Commission
3. Launching Tulsa’s First Expungement Expo
4. Founding Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce
5. Passing the Six Month Moratorium Healthy Neighborhoods Overlay
6. Revitalization of B. C. Franklin Park
7. Successful Executive Order calling for a 10% utilization requirement for small businesses
8. Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Oversight Committee reflecting diversity
9. Ensured the Tulsa Development Authority meetings now televised on TGOV to the community
10. Co-Founder of the Black Wall Street Fair
“I thank God for service and the opportunity to serve in my community,” she said, shortly after receiving her award.
Overwhelmed and brought to tears by the tremendous gratitude she felt from the north Tulsa community, she then shared a quote by Dr. Cornel West, who is from the same community:
“‘If your success is defined as being well adjusted to injustice and well adapted to indifference, then we don’t want successful leaders. We want great leaders who love the people enough and respect the people enough to be unbought, unbound, unafraid, and unintimidated to tell the truth,’ and that is what I try to do.”
Vanessa Hall-Harper continues to advocate unapologetically for the historic community of north Tulsa and is currently running for re-election for District 1 City Councilor.
Nehemiah D. Frank is the Founder & Executive Editor of the Black Wall St. Times. Frank graduated from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL in General Studies, and earned a Political Science degree from Oklahoma State University. He is a community activism, a teacher at Sankofa School of the Performing Arts, a blogger for Education Post, and dedicates most of his time to empowering and uplifting his community of North Tulsa, home to America’s Black Wall Street. Frank is a 2017 Terence Crutcher Foundation Honoree and the Community Impact Award recipient for the MET Cares Foundation and has been featured on NBC, Blavity, and Tulsa People. His latest accolade includes a TEDx Talk at the University of Tulsa.