Courtesy Tulsa Juneteenth Festival

Juneteenth programming is underway in Tulsa and will run through the weekend.

A Thursday night block party on North Greenwood Avenue kicked off the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival.

"We want everyone in the city of Tulsa to really see what Juneteenth is all about," said Carmel Blumenberg, a festival organizer. "Let's celebrate together. Let's commemorate together. Let's remember together, and just have a good time."

On this edition of ST, we chat with artist and Living Arts of Tulsa board member Tina Henley, who is the curator for an interesting group show now on view at Living Arts called "Project Hope, Unity, and Compassion." On view through the 22nd, it is a collection of large-scale artworks which were created on plywood last summer by various artists, and which were then used to cover store-fronts, windows, and buildings in advance of the Trump rally at the BOK Center.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Greenwood's proclamation that "BLACK LIVES MATTER" will be erased from the road surface by the city of Tulsa.

In a Wednesday meeting of the Tulsa City Council's committee on urban and economic development, councilors, attorneys and a representative from City Hall discussed what to do about the painting, which was done without a city permit.

The discussion was raised by Councilor Cass Fahler, who said that pro-police groups have inquired about the legality of painting their own message -- "BACK THE BLUE" -- on some other block in Tulsa. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A plan to swap Columbus Day for Juneteenth as a federal holiday backed by Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford has been withdrawn.

While the Senate still supports a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson withdrew an amendment to eliminate Columbus Day as a way to cover the cost of giving federal workers paid time off or overtime for the new Juneteenth holiday.

Lankford said the plan would have saved $600 million and notes less than half of states still officially celebrate Columbus Day.


The Oklahoma Democratic Party addressed President Trump’s Tulsa campaign rally, which will happen Saturday night.

Chair Alicia Andrews said the president has gone from saying it’s about Oklahoma’s COVID numbers to saying it’s about celebrating Juneteenth, and she’s not sure what the real reason is.

"And frankly, no one wants him to celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth also marks the fact that slaveholders benefitted from two and a half more years of free labor. We get to celebrate the end of chattel slavery. The celebration is not for the oppressor," Andrews said.

Tulsa Juneteenth

In just about any other year, Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that all enslaved black people learned they had been freed from bondage, would be marked by African American families across the nation with a cookout, a parade, a community festival, a soulful rendition of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”

But in 2020, as the coronavirus ravishes black America disproportionately, as economic uncertainty wrought by the pandemic strains black pocketbooks, and as police brutality continues to devastate black families, Juneteenth is a day of protest.

Every now and then, I still encounter music lovers who aren’t familiar with the vast and diverse repertoire of classical music by Black American composers.

I can’t really blame them; it’s easy to get the impression that this is a strictly European tradition from some ... less imaginative concert programs, albums, and yes, even radio shows. It can take a lot of effort to expand your own horizons – especially when your familiar favorites are so comforting.

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission

Gov. Kevin Stitt said on Wednesday President Donald Trump’s potential visit to the Greenwood District ahead of his campaign rally this weekend is "in flux."

"I don’t know if the president is going to go to the Greenwood District now. It was a request that I made early but because of the Juneteenth celebration, with the Secret Service it could be problematic to have the president go there because some things have to be disrupted and shut down for a presidential visit," Stitt said.

Black community and political leaders are calling on President Donald Trump to at least change the date of an Oklahoma rally kick-starting his return to public campaigning, saying that holding the event on Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery in America, is a “slap in the face.”

Trump campaign officials discussed in advance the possible reaction to the Juneteenth date, but there are no plans to change it despite fierce blowback.