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An illuminating Jerica Wortham smiles and poses for the Black Wall Street Times outside of 36 Degrees North Basecamp II in the Greenwood District.
Published 08/12/2019 | Reading Time 1 min sec 55
By BWSTimes Staff
TULSA, Okla. — If you know anything about Jerica Wortham, you’ll recognize that she’s a socialite. She’s a native-born Tulsan, Booker T. Washington alum, ebony wearing, Cinderella-Esque and spoken word black beauty, who puts the vibe into why Tulsa’s becoming a more vibrantly-inclusive and attractive city to live in.
An accomplished and best-selling author of two poetry books “The Roux” and “Beautiful and Strange“, and the founder of her own publishing company J’Parle’ Publishing, this young Tulsan is doing the damn thang.
Jerica was 7-years-old when she started writing poetry and wouldn’t begin performing publicly until her junior year of high school.
“I remember writing my first poem at 7 for mother’s day. I made a card, and I wrote my, own, poem to put inside of it,” she shared.
The words in her books and live performances trigger every human emotion that comes with life. Jerica says that art’s intersection with various social issues makes talking about the tough subjects a bit easier to handle.
“As an artist, you have sort of a free reign to say the things that people don’t wanna say — to lift veils of ignorance, if you will.”
She explained that using art, be it spoken-word, paintings, or music are ways to facilitate difficult conversations regarding racial injustice and community shortfalls.
Tulsa, Oklahoma was recently rewarded with a 1 million dollar arts grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 Public Art Challenge, and Jerica is now the project manager for the coming exhibition “The Greenwood Art Project.”
Jerica Wortham with Alexander Tamahn‘s Black Lives Matter mural at the Living Arts building in the Greenwood District in the background.
The objective of this project is to ‘include a group of temporary public artworks commemorating Black Wall Street, an area in the city’s Greenwood neighborhood that was home to many black-owned businesses in the early 20th century,’ and that narrates the horrid massacre and pillaging that destroyed the community in 1921 and the tremendous resilience it took to rebuild it after the smoldering fires settled. Henceforth, Jerica is the lead curator for what happens in this exhibition.
For the many spectators, who will come to visit the new museum and memorial that will be built on Greenwood Avenue and will open to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacreduring the same year in 2021, The Greenwood Art Project is just another way to tell the story of the resilience of this once prosperous African-American community that seeks to recreate another golden era.
“What I’m hoping will occur through The Greenwood Art Project is that people will find little nuggets and build on the full history. I want them to try and get the full scope of what happened.”
Besides being at the helm of such an important project, Jerica passes down the legacy of the Black Wall Street’s entrepreneurial spirit to her son, Solomon.
Solomon already shows the promise of that reemergence of another golden era for the Black Wall Street, recently starting a lemonade stand that cleaned house in its first day of business — earning over $400 and now aspires to open a restaurant.
Jerica said that Solomon counts his money every day would know if a dollar went missing.
Son of entrepreneur Jerica Wortham, young Solomon Wortham is the founder and CEO of Solomon Lemonade Stand (Courtsey of Jerica Wortham).