Fred Jones can still recollect the entities of Greenwood he saw growing up in the late 1960s. Whether it’s his grandmother’s bread store, a pool hall or even the city dump, Jones remembers it all.
The now Oklahoma Eagle web administrator grew up in Tulsa, got his haircuts on Greenwood and attended Booker T. Washington High School.
Despite attending one of the more prestigious high schools in the state, Jones — like most across the state — never learned about the Tulsa race massacre growing up.
So now, Jones, who hosts several community events with students from Tulsa public schools, always challenges the kids to Google “Black Wall Street.”
“I want them to get an understanding of what once was,” Jones said. “It may never be the same, but we can still be a part of the new Greenwood, of the new economic structure. With that, kind of sprinkle some tradition in there also. I make sure that, when I host my events, that I talk about Black Wall Street in 1910-1920, not just 1921.
“Not just the tragedy, but the success that was there.”
Prior to the race massacre, Greenwood was a prosperous location flush with an affluent Black community.
After 1921, everything changed.
Like Greenwood, the Oklahoma Eagle also transformed with the race massacre. After opening in 1913 as the Tulsa Star, the building burned down in the race riots.
But emerging out of the fire, the Tulsa Star rebranded as the Oklahoma Eagle.
“The Oklahoma Eagle has a lot of heritage, a lot of skin in the game when it comes to Black Wall Street because we were the only voice for the African American community at the time,” Jones said. “To be resilient enough to come back the following week after such a bombing just shows the resiliency and steadfastness of those individuals at that time to make sure that the news still got out.
“We take pride in that today.”
Jones joined the Oklahoma Eagle eight years ago, and he’s made it a point to continue the Eagle’s strong legacy.
The Oklahoma Eagle has been printing newspapers for about 100 years, but three years ago, Jones took it upon himself to launch a web page.
In those three years, the site has tallied 5 million hits.
“It’s so hard to get a person to sit down and read a newspaper,” Jones said. “Everybody has got a phone, you don’t even need a laptop to read all this, it’s in your hand. For the next 100 years, we want to make that the Eagle is in your hand.”