By: Nate Morris, senior editor
TULSA, OK – Just eight days after the Tulsa City Council removed the name of Tate Brady (former Klansman and architect of the 1921 massacre) from a prominent city street, Peter Mayo, owner of The Brady Theater, announced that his venue will do the same.
Beginning in 2019, The Brady Theater will reopen its doors to the public as ‘The Tulsa Theater’, Mayo revealed in a news release on Thursday.
To mark the occasion, Mayo and his company will replace the red letters on the outside of their building with a large steel sign spelling out “Tulsa” in cursive lettering.
The building, which has been in existence since October of 1914, was originally known as the ‘Tulsa Convention Hall’. It was used by klansmen to detain Black citizens during who were forced from their homes into the theater while their neighborhood of Greenwood was burned to the ground during the 1921 massacre. Some accounts posit that victims of the massacre may have been killed inside of the theater itself.
In 1952, the structure was renamed the ‘Tulsa Municipal Theater’ until it was purchased by Mr. Mayo in 1978. Mayo then renamed the structure “Brady Theater” and got the building approved to be on the National Register of Historic Places in August of 1979.
During the 2013 debate around the Brady Street name change, Mayo told the Tulsa World in an interview that the name of the theater was chosen because of the street name. He stated then that, while he “would rather not” change the name because of business reasons, “if the citizens decide their need to be a name change, then so be it.”
After the council voted on November 28th to rid the city of the name ‘Brady’ from its streets, Mayo said in the press release “The City Council’s vote to change the name of M.B. Brady to Reconciliation Way in July of 2019 solidified that it is time for the venue’s name to change as well.”
There is no word on whether the grand reopening will include commemoration of the role the building or its current namesake played in the massacre of Black Tulsans and destruction of Greenwood in 1921.
*The phrase “many reports” was changed in an edit from the original article to “some accounts”.
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.