Highway to History
Oklahoma Today|March/April 2021
Derrick Smith Jr. is sharing Oklahoma’s rich heritage from the back of a motorcycle.
SUSAN DRAGOO

ONCE, THEY WERE places of refuge and community for people who had been enslaved in Indian Territory and other parts of the South. After the Civil War, African Americans created more than fifty settlements in what would become the state of Oklahoma. Some of these towns had short lives, while others flourished, providing self-governance and an escape from the discrimination some residents experienced in other communities as well as an atmosphere of racial solidarity.

Because of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the economies of these small farming communities declined, and most could not survive. Thirteen persisted, however, and still exist as incorporated towns: Langston, Red Bird, Tullahassee, Taft, Summit, Rentiesville, Grayson, Boley, Clearview, Vernon, Lima, Brooksville, and Tatums. A fourteenth, IXL, was added to the list when it was incorporated in 2001.

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