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Ray June, M.C., and Chris Combs perform. (by RyanCass)

OKLAHOMA CITY  — Oklahoma Contemporary, a multi-disciplinary arts organization, will host a free evening of music and memory featuring hip-hop project Fire in Little Africa and Greenwood Art Project’s mobile exhibition, the G.A.P. Van on Saturday, April 24.

Organized by the Woody Guthrie Center and Bob Dylan Center, Fire in Little Africa brings together Oklahoma’s top rappers, singers, musicians and visual artists in an album and documentary to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Massacre and introduce Tulsa’s hip-hop culture to a global audience.

More than 30 artists will perform at the Oklahoma Contemporary event, including Steph Simon, Dialtone, St. Domonick, Ayilla, Hakeem Eli’Juwon, Ausha LaCole, Tony Foster Jr and Ray June.

Debut performance

“Fire in Little Africa is a project of explosive creativity and extraordinary scale,” said Oklahoma Contemporary Artistic Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis. “The artists who comprise the new collective have courageously banded together to meet this moment — the centennial commemoration of the Tulsa Race Massacre. This important project and forthcoming album speak to the ability of contemporary artists not only to interpret the world as it is so we can better appreciate the present, but to wrangle with the world as it was so we can draw lessons from the past. Oklahoma Contemporary is honored to partner with Fire in Little Africa to present the group’s first performance in the state’s capital.”

The Fire in Little Africa album gets to the truth of what happened May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a White mob descended on the streets of Greenwood — then a prosperous Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street — and burned down the business district, destroying roughly 1,500 homes, killing hundreds and leaving thousands of Black Tulsans homeless.

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Steph Simon performs (by Ryan Cass)

The artists heard on Fire in Little Africa explore these events through urgent songs, recalling stories told and stories lived in hope to usher in a new era for Tulsa as they help the community process this generational trauma through music.

A “communal hip-hop movement”

Fire in Little Africa has evolved into a communal hip-hop movement, and we’re excited that we get to share the flavor, history and legacy of Black Wall Street in this live performance in collaboration with Greenwood Art Project and our friends at Oklahoma Contemporary,” said Stevie “Dr. View” Johnson, the album’s executive producer and the manager of Education and Diversity Outreach at the Woody Guthrie Center and  Bob Dylan Center.

In addition to the concert, the Greenwood Art Project’s mobile G.A.P. Van — a multi-use, collaborative, mobile art exhibition, workshop space and poster project in collaboration with PBS American Portrait — will give attendees a chance to explore and make their own visual art that shares stories about the massacre and reflects their voices. The Greenwood Art Project is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge.

The event will be emceed  by Jabee and livestreamed on Oklahoma Contemporary’s website, on Fire in Little Africa’s and Oklahoma Contemporary‘s Facebook pages and on Fire in Little Africa’s YouTube channel. In-person tickets (both free lawn and VIP terrace seating) are sold out.

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...

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