President Donald Trump will play host to a political rally in his own honor on June 20th, in the city of Tulsa, Okla., where he will be greeted by thousands of supporters, and also many people who will voice their discontent through the art of public protest. God bless America!
His pending arrival in the city is seen as an aggressive challenge to ethnic minority groups in the U.S., not only because of the current state of Black Lives Matter protests around the country, but also because of the city’s history. Tulsa was the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, when hundreds of black residents in the Greenwood District—known as “Black Wall Street” due to the affluence of its black residents—were murdered by an angry, jealous white mob who torched the neighborhood. Besides lynching the residents by hanging them from trees, some particularly energetic white supremacists flew overhead in small airplanes and dropped flaming balls of turpentine on homes and public buildings. (Greenwood was rebuilt successfully, but then the implementation of interstate highways led to building highway overpasses and exit ramps through the neighborhood, as was the case with virtually every black neighborhood in the U.S., and Greenwood could not recover.)
With all of these people going to Tulsa, here are some pointers for anybody who wishes to join in that great American pastime of political protest, and travel to this fine city in the heart of Oklahoma.
- Trump’s rally is scheduled to be held June 20, at the BOK Center, an indoor sports and entertainment arena in the downtown area.
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- There is a counter-protest planned for Saturday afternoon, June 20, starting at 5 p.m., at the Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N Greenwood Ave. Greenwood is very close to downtown. (Even though the event will be outdoors, people will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder and wearing masks is still extremely important. People got sick with Covid-19 at the Winter Party in Miami, which is outdoors, and they died, remember.)
- Many hotels are near the BOK Center, including Art Deco beauties that have been lovingly restored like the Mayo Hotel, Tulsa Club Hotel—Curio Collection, and the Ambassador Hotel Tulsa—Autograph Collection. Art Deco hotel rooms are traditionally small, but the suites are lovely. For the budget traveler, lower-cost hotels are in plentiful supply in the Downtown and Greenwood areas. Also, the Campbell Hotel is less than 10 minutes from the BOK Center, and each room has a unique theme.
- This visit to Tulsa does not need to be entirely centered around political unrest. Tulsa’s crown jewel is Gathering Place, a $465 million dollar urban renewal park that was financed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a Democratic political powerhouse that supports many of the city’s best social programs. The park is a nice place to visit, and has snack bars within the property, although the (gorgeous!) Vista at the Boathouse restaurant is currently closed. Every visit to Gathering Place should include a stop in the Cabinet of Wonder.
- Only one building survived the Tulsa Race Massacre: the Mabel B. Little Heritage House, located in Greenwood. The house is closed because of Covid-19 but it can be seen from the street. The home is filled with furnishings and personal effects of the era, which were saved from the mobs when residents saw the oncoming fires and moved their furniture to the backyards, away from the destruction as the homes were burned. The docents who lead the tours of the home, who have many stories to tell, are the best part.
- For bars, the Tulsa Eagle has a casual vibe; Club Majestic is noisier and draws a mixed crowd. Yellow Brick Road is an old-school lesbian bar, complete with jukebox. (Is going to bars a good idea yet?)
Happy protesting, whichever side of the political spectrum you stand on, and please remember to not let strangers breathe on you or touch you with unclean hands.