April 14, 2024

Obligate Law

Professional Law Makers

Oklahoma senator pushes for funding for Civil Rights Trail

2 min read
Oklahoma senator pushes for funding for Civil Rights Trail

TULSA, Okla. — A bill to fund the Oklahoma Civil Rights Trail is making its way through the state legislature. State Senator Kevin Matthews says the trail would highlight significant black history across Oklahoma and increase tourism.

“There is a lot of ghost towns in Oklahoma, and we don’t want Tullahassee to become one of them,” said Marty Hytche.

Marty Hytche, chairman of the Tullahassee Wildcats Foundation, grew up in the town. It’s one of Oklahoma’s remaining all-black towns.

“I would love to see Redbird flourishing,” said Darryl Moore.

Mayor Darryl Moore has roots in Redbird, another of these communities still in existence today. A bill that would help fund the Oklahoma Civil Rights Trail could also benefit these towns.
“We’re merging the cultural aspect of Native Americans and African Americans and their history with tourism in the state of Oklahoma,” said Senator Kevin Matthews.

State Senator Kevin Matthews is behind the project. The goal is to preserve Oklahoma’s past, inspire future generations, and promote economic development.

“People that came here ten to twelve years ago can’t believe what they see when they come to Tulsa now because of Greenwood Rising and other things that we’ve done here, and we want to do that across the state,” said Senator Matthews.

Last legislative session, lawmakers unanimously approved the creation of the Civil Rights Trail. Now, Senator Matthews is hoping SB1356 will provide $1.5 million to a revolving fund to make it a reality.

The money would help provide historical markers at each site to shed light on the history of each community and promote tourism.

“It’s our history, and it’s an opportunity for us to tout why Oklahoma is Oklahoma,” said Senator Matthews.

The trail would start in Ponca City and end at Greenwood Rising in Tulsa while weaving through the 13 existing all-black towns.

Senator Matthews says the trail could bring up to one million new visitors to the state.

“Tourism is the 3rd largest revenue driver in the state, and we want to bring people and revenue to our state,” said Senator Matthews.

“I’d love to see businesses and more people,” said Mayor Moore. “The more the merrier.”

The revolving fund is also expected to include federal dollars, gifts, and donations to develop the trail. Right now, the bill is working its way through committee.

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