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(Serae Avance / Black Wall Street Times)

By Ricco Wright

Kid President Ariana Reagor, 10, made the big announcement shortly after 10am yesterday that Tulsa’s Gathering Place, dubbed “Tulsa’s Central Park” by Director Tony Moore, will kick off its 100-day opening on September 8th.

Dozens of kids lined up on a staircase behind the dais, where several other kid leaders sat, all to support their president in greeting the media and making the official announcement.

The executive decision to make kids the focal point yesterday made one thing clear: kids will always be the lifeline of A Gathering Place even though adults will be able to enjoy much content there as well.

Following the announcement, which included confetti for much added pomp and circumstance, Moore addressed the media on just a few topics, including one that’s got Tulsa buzzing.


(Serae Avance / Black Wall Street Times)

He announced that The Roots
? an American hip-hop/neo-soul band from Philadelphia, PA ? will be the headliner on opening night and that the concert will be free to the public. He then added that “Tulsa’s Central Park” will remain free every day thereafter.

A Gathering Place will provide sports, arts, education, and more, said Moore. He also reiterated that “everything is free” and that the food will be affordable. For example, a family of four will be able to eat lunch there for approximately $20. This is but a fraction of what families would spend at, say, Disney World. And again, there is no admission.

Several concerns were addressed as well. But they are being dealt with accordingly and expeditiously, said Moore. Parking, for instance, will be an arduous task to overcome given the locale of and the limited space around the park. But Moore wants the public to know that these concerns will be resolved by opening day.

Another concern was safety. Moore mentioned that he and his team have assembled a Veteran Operations Team to physically be in the park from open to close and that he anticipates the hours of operation being from 9am to 10pm. These particular details, he said, will be flushed out and finalized long before opening day.

Transportation was also addressed. Moore hesitated none when sharing his excitement for the corporate sponsorships established for improved community relations. “I want transportation to be sustainable, not temporary.”

He added that he made his vision clear to all corporate sponsors from the onset: he doesn’t want anything remotely close to a two-month program where access to the park is made available to kids who would enjoy visiting the park but cannot due to lack of transportation. His mind is completely focused on continued support in this regard ? and he has made that one of his goals.


(Serae Avance / Black Wall Street Times)

As a person of color leading what many consider to be the most popular addition to Tulsa in decades, Moore made clear that he’s particularly interested in seeing people of color take advantage of the content at A Gathering Place. “I want this park to be authentically relevant to families in North Tulsa.”

When asked how he felt about being a black director in such an important role as this, Moore said, “It’s humbling. Tulsa has a lot of history ? history that I wasn’t aware of until I was well into adulthood ? and so I want to do my part in making things better here.”

He stated explicitly that he’ll measure his success by the number of visitors to the park by zip code. If the record reflects a high percentage of visitors from zip codes that are predominantly people of color, he’ll then deem himself successful.

Moore is already on his way to being successful in this regard. All one has to do is look at the diversity of staff at A Gathering Place to see the type of impact his leadership is having on the climate of the park. One could make four clockwise 90-degree turns and find at least one employee of color there.

This speaks volumes to the type of diversity and inclusion that the director has in store for what’s to come.

With 100 different experiences one can have in a day, Tulsa’s Gathering Place promises to be a park for everyone
? of all ages, of all races, of all ethnicities, and more.


(Serae Avance / Black Wall Street Times)

id President Reagor is most excited about the Reading Tree program there. She wants all kids ? especially those who might perceive reading to be boring or uneventful ? to know that they are guaranteed to view reading differently after experiencing the content at A Gathering Place.

“Reading,” said Kid President Reagor, “opens up our imagination and creates another world for us.

For kids of color, especially those in North Tulsa, A Gathering Place just might be where reading and having fun finally converge ? and where their imaginations can roam just as much as their bodies will. And with parents and teachers getting behind this brilliant initiative, one can only imagine how far their imaginations will indeed roam.

Ricco Wright-109-SQcrop-WebUse.jpg

Ricco Wright is the managing editor of The Black Wall Street Times, the poetry editor of Calliope Crashes, and the founder of The Royal Mien Collective. He also has written for NewBlackMan (in Exile), The Langston Gazette and TC Today, and has been a featured commentator on NPR, CNN Live, and CNN International.

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...