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A descendant of 1921 massacre survivors and the owner of a private education facility have teamed up to educate the community on Oklahoma’s Black history with discussions they can’t have in the classroom.

“To deny our kids Black history is really asking them to deny themselves,” Black History Saturdays founder Kristi Williams told the Black Wall Street Times.

Beginning on Saturday, Feb. 4 at EduRec in North Tulsa, the free lessons will be offered each month with 120 spots available. The classes are split up by age and taught by eight teachers, including Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper and Tulsa University Assistant Professor Dr. Alicia Odewale. The five-hour seminars highlight the past, present and future of the Black experience to inspire the next generation.

The topics will include entrepreneurship, archaeology, researching family history, and the significance of oral storytelling, Williams said. The curriculum draws from the “The 2892 Miles to Go: Geographic Walk for Justice,” a National Geographic project described as a social justice geo-inquiry movement amplifying community stories led and told by those who live there.”

Black History Saturdays seminars combat anti-critical race theory bill

As chair of the Greater Tulsa Area African American Affairs Commission and as a descendant of entrepreneurs who survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Kristi Williams had a dream of bringing Black history to the youth and community, with lessons that go beyond the civil rights movement and slavery.

“There is so much more Black history throughout Oklahoma that needs to be told.”

Her years-long dream was accelerated after Oklahoma passed an oppressive law, HB 1775

The anti-critical race theory law forbids Oklahoma public school teachers from telling students that one race is superior to another or that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

The vague language of the bill has led to a chill on discussions around anything that has to do with race, such as the history and current impacts of systemic racism and implicit bias. 

Oklahoma’s public officials have continuously engaged in attacks against teachers and penalized school districts that gave even the appearance of administering lessons on racial bias.

“Now I get a chance to get educators excited about teaching again,” Williams told The Black Wall Street Times. She hopes it will also help improve critical thinking skills.

“I just think the possibilities are endless.”

EduRec: a safe space for Black history

Determined to make a difference, Kristi Williams teamed up with Charles Harper, CEO of EduRec, to lock down a location for the monthly history lessons.

Harper was excited to give participants of Black History Saturdays “ a safe environment” to come in and learn, he told The Black Wall Street Times.

EduRec is a privately owned facility located at 5424 N. Madison Avenue in North Tulsa. The facility is home to several community organizations, such as the all-boys Crossover Preparatory Academy and Supporters of Families with Sickle Cell.

Boasting 15 acres of land, Charles Harper’s facility represents a private, safe space where no one can silence or penalize instructors for telling the truth about Black history.

“We have to have a space for us where we can be us,” Harper said. “Our partnership has a built in hub where I believe it will make it easier” to teach Black History Saturdays.

Ultimately, Kristi Williams hopes entire families will come to learn and take the discussions back to their dinner tables at home.

“We have to start creating an economy within this economy just like our ancestors did,” Williams said. “They built their own schools. Why can’t we build our own place where our community can come in on a Saturday and learn Black history? So that’s what I did.”
To sign up for the monthly classes, click here.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

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