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By: Nate Morris, senior editor
TULSA, OK – On his last night as a Tulsa city counselor, Blake Ewing and his colleagues voted to change the name of M.B. Brady street to “Reconciliation Way”.
The 8-1 decision (interim counselor Arianna Moore was the only ‘no’ vote) comes nearly six years after the council, in Ewing’s words, “got it wrong” by deciding to keep the surname of William Tate Brady, a mastermind of the 1921 Race Massacre, on the street name.
Some of the same individuals who spoke in favor of the name change six years ago spoke against the resolution tonight, concerned that the name “Reconciliation Way” signified that Tulsa had reached a state of reconciliation.
They argued that Tulsa, which still has yet to pay an estimated $2 million in reparations to survivors of the massacre and their families, may be hindered by a largely symbolic gesture.
Councilman Ewing, who drafted the proposal and has been working to garner ‘yes’ votes over the course of the last month, indicated that his intention in the name choice is not to signify that reconciliation has occurred. Rather, he hopes that the name will serve as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done.
Councilwoman Hall-Harper, who voted “yes” on the resolution, stated that she believed it was a “very, very small step” in the right direction for the city, cautioning that there is still a great deal of work to do. “It’s symbolism,” said Hall-Harper, “sometimes symbols are important”.
In addition to the name change, Councilman Ewing pledged to work with city and community leaders in order to commission a piece of artwork in the middle of downtown which he hopes “will tell the full story of our city”.
The name change will become effective July 1, 2019 and will apply to the entire stretch of “Brady Street” within Tulsa city limits.
Nate Morris is the senior editor of the Black Wall Street Times. Nate was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area and moved to Tulsa in 2012 after graduating from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. He received his Master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2015. Nate is a Teach for America alumnus and has worked in schools throughout the Tulsa area. He is an advocate for educational equity as well as racial and social justice throughout Tulsa and the nation as a whole.