The best books of Black history: the Black experience in Oklahoma

Why am I passionate about this?

The Black Experience is my experience. Through living that experience, and with the benefit of education, my passion for storytelling—for sharing oft-neglected Black history from a Black perspective—evolved. Professionally, I am a Harvard-educated attorney who writes, lectures, teaches, and coaches in the general area of the Black experience and in the broader realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion. My ten books focus on aspects of the Black experience in America. I have received many honors and accolades for my professional and community work, including induction into both the Tulsa Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.


I wrote...

Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma

By Hannibal B. Johnson,

Book cover of Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma

What is my book about?

Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma offers updates on developments in Tulsa generally and in Tulsa’s Greenwood District specifically since the publication of Hannibal B. Johnson’s Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District

The book reflects on Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District in all its splendor and squalor, from the prodigious entrepreneurial spirit that pervaded it to the carnage that characterized the 1921 massacre to the post-massacre rebound and rebuilding that raised the District to new heights to the mid-twentieth-century decline that proved to be a second near-fatal blow to the current recalibration and rebranding of a resurgent, but differently configured, community.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice

Hannibal B. Johnson Why did I love this book?

The Ground Breaking takes a look at the work Tulsa is doing to repair damage from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre—to make reparation. Specifically, the book examines Tulsa's commitment to investigating longstanding accounts of mass graves containing Black bodies hastily buried in the wake of the massacre. Collective trauma from historical events must be addressed. Answering the answerable questions that linger from the past is part of the healing process. 

By Scott Ellsworth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ground Breaking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2021 National Book Award Longlist

2022 Carnegie Medal Nonfiction Longlist

One of The New York Times' “11 New Books We Recommend This Week” | One of Oprah Daily's “20 of the Best Books to Pick Up This May” | One of The Oklahoman's“15 Books to Help You Learn About the Tulsa Race Massacre as the 100-Year Anniversary Approaches” |A The Week book of the week

As seen in documentaries on the History Channel, CNN, and Lebron James’s SpringHill Productions

And then they were gone.

More than one thousand homes and businesses. Restaurants and movie theaters, churches and doctors’ offices, a…


Book cover of Murder In The Streets: A White Choctaw Witness To The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Hannibal B. Johnson Why did I love this book?

Murder in the Streets is a unique, first-person, contemporaneous account of the massacre through the eyes of a Native American (Choctaw) man who was not identifiably Native and lived the life of a white man. The man, Choc Phillips, became a Tulsa police officer and wrote the book as a memoir later in his life. This is a rare, contemporaneous account of one of the low points in American race relations. 

By William C. Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder In The Streets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre occurred over two days, May 30 and June 1, 1921, when a white mob destroyed the African American section of Tulsa, Okla., known as the Greenwood District. As a result, more than 1,250 homes and businesses were destroyed, thirty-five square blocks of Tulsa leveled, and hundreds of innocent people were injured or dead.

There have been numerous book and news articles written about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, but most of the first-person accounts were given by African Americans. However, William C. "Choc" Phillips was part white and part Native American and an eyewitness to…


Book cover of Release Me: The Spirits of Greenwood Speak

Hannibal B. Johnson Why did I love this book?

Release Me is an anthology that looks at the legacy of Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District through the eyes of various authors tapping a plethora of literary styles and devices. Through Release Me, the voices of the oft-unheard ring out. The legacy of the Greenwood District lives. 

By Phetote Mshairi (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Release Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Apparitions roam the Greenwood District, yearning to be free of the day they died…”
The story of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, OK (aka Black Wall Street) is more than the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. RELEASE ME, the Spirits of Greenwood Speak anthology focuses on the lives of the citizens of Greenwood. The anthology is a symphony of historic facts about the Greenwood District (before and after the massacre) along with timeless and borderless community building principles wrapped in poetry, short stories, art, essays, and photography. RELEASE ME, the Spirits of Greenwood Speak anthology has contributions from Poet Laureate of…


Book cover of The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History

Hannibal B. Johnson Why did I love this book?

This photographic history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre recounts a compelling event with an equally compelling pictorial narrative. Dr. Hill, who leads the African and African American studies program at the University of Oklahoma, shares this curated look at a catastrophic moment in time with a view toward acknowledging our full history and shaping our collective vision for an inclusive future.

By Karlos K. Hill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the evening of May 31, 1921, and in the early morning hours of June 1, several thousand white citizens and authorities violently attacked the African American Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the course of some twelve hours of mob violence, white Tulsans reduced one of the nation's most prosperous black communities to rubble and killed an estimated 300 people, mostly African Americans. This richly illustrated volume, featuring more than 175 photographs, along with oral testimonies, shines a new spotlight on the race massacre from the vantage point of its victims and survivors.

Historian and Black Studies professor Karlos…


Book cover of Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Hannibal B. Johnson Why did I love this book?

Unspeakable is a beautifully illustrated look at the economic and entrepreneurial community that was the African American sector in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the "Greenwood District" or, as it was heralded, "Black Wall Street," and its calamitous destruction in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The book aims to familiarize children with the full breadth of history—warts and all—such that they might one day leverage their learning to fashion a society in which shared humanity is a core value.

By Carole Boston Weatherford, Floyd Cooper (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Unspeakable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator

A Caldecott Honor Book

A Sibert Honor Book

Longlisted for the National Book Award

A Kirkus Prize Finalist

A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

"A must-have"―Booklist (starred review)

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of…


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The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

By Sammy Stein,

Book cover of The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

Sammy Stein Author Of Fabulous Female Musicians

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been passionate about music for almost my entire life. Jazz music in particular speaks to me but not just jazz. I love music, full stop. I really discovered jazz when I attended a jazz club workshop in London and there, I had to join in or leave. I chose to join in and since then I have never looked back. I was introduced to more jazz musicians and now write about music for three major columns as well as Readers’ Digest. My Women In Jazz book won several awards. I have been International Editor for the Jazz Journalist Association and had my work commissioned by the Library of Congress. 

Sammy's book list on female musicians

What is my book about?

With input from over 100 musicians, the book discusses what exactly jazz is, and how you know you are listening to it. Do we truly know when and how jazz first originated? Who was the first jazz musician? How does jazz link to other genres? What about women in jazz? And writers and journalists? Do reviews make any difference? 

This book is a deep dive into jazz's history, impact, and future. It discusses jazz's social, cultural, and political influence and reveals areas where jazz has had an impact we may not even realize.Its influences on hip hop, the connection to…

The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

By Sammy Stein,

What is this book about?

This book is very different from other, more general jazz books. It is packed with information, advice, well researched and includes experiences from jazz musicians who gleefully add their rich voices to Sammy's in-depth research. All genres, from hard bop to be-bop, vocal jazz, must instrumental, free jazz, and everything between is covered in one way or another and given Sammy's forensic eye. There is social commentary and discussions of careers in jazz music. The musical background of those in the book is rich and diverse.
Critics comment:
"This new book by Sammy Stein is a highly individual take on…


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