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Cyclists bike to all of Oklahoma's Black towns

Euykem Gulilat, from left, Bill Tatiana and Osborne Celestain pose for a picture on Monday, April 16, 2024, on Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa after biking to all of Oklahoma's Black towns.
Max Bryan
/
KWGS News
Euykem Gulilat, from left, Bill Tatiana and Osborne Celestain pose for a picture on Monday, April 16, 2024, on Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa after biking to all of Oklahoma's Black towns.

Three men who biked to Oklahoma’s Black towns have returned victorious.

Osborne Celestain, Eukem Gullet and Bill Taitano biked over 600 miles on a tour of the state's 13 Black towns that still operate as municipalities.

Black towns sprouted up in Oklahoma after the Civil War when former slaves from Native American reservations banded together. More than 50 such towns were established from 1865 to 1920.

Celestain, who has hosted events in Tulsa centered around Black history, got the idea for the ride after hearing about cyclists who trekked Route 66.

"It all just kind of clicked, you know? I’m turning 66, I can ride on Route 66, I can go 600 miles, and I can visit all the Black towns," he said.

Celestain said the tour was challenging at times — the three battled unpleasant weather, and were set back in their travels. This meant on Sunday, they had to bike more than 100 miles to stay on course.

But residents enjoyed sharing with the cyclists when they arrived at one of the towns, Celestain said. Gulilat, who has taken photos of the Black towns for more than 15 years, said bike ride gave him a new perspective.

"I have actually more places to go back and photograph because of my bicycle," he said.

Another much shorter Black towns bike tour is scheduled for September 21st. That one will feature stops in five of the towns and is open to the public.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.