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GREENWOOD Dist. — Leon Rollerson, a jazz legend and community leader who grew up in Historic Greenwood District, home to the original Black Wall Street, has traded in his bass for a pair of wings.
Rollerson passed away at the age of 74 on Wednesday after a lengthy battle with colectoral cancer, his family told KTUL on Sunday.
His funeral service will be held on May 19 at 11 a.m. at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Tulsa, according to his production company.
Remembering a legend: Leon Rollerson
Leon Rollerson was a jazz musician born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was a prominent figure in the Tulsa jazz scene during the 1950s and 1960s, and his music was heavily influenced by the blues and gospel.
Yet he was much more than just a musician. His passion for activating his community through music was amplified by his desire to empower social progress mere decades after the racist destruction of the nation’s wealthiest Black neighborhood during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
“When he met anyone he showed them love, and he applauded them,” said friend Dr. Lana Turner-Addison told KTUL. “He was always that one person that would say job well done, keep doing what you’re doing, you’re doing great.”
Rollerson served on boards for the North Tulsa Economic Development Initiative, Kids Against Hunger, The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Society, and the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.
He will be remembered by his family and his community for the fierce dedication he gave to the arts, education and justice.