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Tulsans will explore Greenwood’s musical roots at Big 10 Ballroom

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GREENWOOD Dist.–Nationally recognized journalist and author Victor Luckerson will take Tulsans on a journey to rediscover Greenwood’s musical heyday during a community read series event Saturday at 4 pm. inside the Historic Big 10 Ballroom.

The Big 10 Ballroom, which once hosted famous Black musicians like Ray Charles, is located at 1624 E. Apache St in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Earlier this year Luckerson published his all-encompassing book on the history of Greenwood, “Built From The Fire.” Now, he’s on a tour titled, “Deep Greenwood”, to expose the community to the rich history found in his book.

The first community read event of the series took place in September. Luckerson drew parallels between the racial climate in Tulsa before the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the racial violence that occurred in Elaine, Arkansas during the “Red Summer” of 1919.

On Saturday, Luckerson will expose the community to what Greenwood was like in the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.

Particularly, the Big 10 Ballroom will set the stage to focus on the nightlife and music scene.

Photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Eagle

“I’ll be discussing the history alongside Washington Rucker, a Greenwood native and Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame inductee who performed at the Big 10 [Ballroom] as a teenager in the 1950s,” Luckerson said in a statement. “Mr. Rucker is featured in my book and can spin some amazing yarns about his hometown back in the day.”

A full schedule of the event can be found at the University of Tulsa website.

Luckerson is a journalist originally from Alabama. He’s written for the New York Times and other national outlets. He moved to Tulsa five years ago to immerse himself in research and human perspectives for his book.

Rep. Regina Goodwin, a descendant of Tulsa Race Massacre survivors, praised Luckerson’s book as the most authentic retelling of the Greenwood community.

In October, Rep. Goodwin led an interim study at the Oklahoma State Capitol on recommendations for reparations. She invited Luckerson as an expert witness as his book details the role governments played in the destruction of Greenwood.

“Tulsa Police deputized White men, giving them authority to ‘get a gun, get busy, and try to get a n*gger,’” Luckerson testified, highlighting first-hand accounts. “Two days after the Massacre, the Governor said no state funds would be used to restore Greenwood.”

Despite the lingering trauma from the city-sanctioned racial domestic terrorist attack, Saturday’s event will play a different tune. A new generation will explore the Historic Big 10 Ballroom.

Greenwood, which gave birth to the GAP band and many other famous musicians, was a beacon of musical culture.

MaKayla Glenn from News on 6 will moderate Saturday’s community read event at Big 10 Ballroom, and local poet Phetote Mshairi will open the event with a spoken word performance.

Notably, Ray Charles, Etta James and B.B. King have all performed inside the North Tulsa venue.

A live band will follow the book talk while a dinner buffet is served. All activities and food are free and open to the public.

“Please come out and bring a friend,” Luckerson stated.

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