June Celebrating Freedom & Fathers

Clara R. Odom, Newsletter Editor

New African American Museum of History and Culture at Loray Mill Board of Directors Named

Let the celebration begin!

As June ushers in the beginning of summer, it is also significant in that it holds two very important National Holidays that are the center of family celebrations. Juneteenth is recognized on June 19th and commemorates the freedom of the enslaved African Americans, while June 20th is Father's Day, a time that we set aside to pay tribute to and show appreciation for the Dads and Granddads and the role that each holds within the family unit.
General Gordon Granger's Order No. 3 Freeing Slaves



This issue will be the introduction to what will be titled, "In The Know-Black History Moment," an opportunity to learn or be reminded of little known Black history facts. Since May 31-June 1, 2021 marks the 100 year anniversary of The Tulsa Race Massacre, our first Black History fact will speak on this historical event.

Did you know that the Tulsa massacre was one of the worst acts of racial violence in American history and ironically is one of the least known? For 18 hours during May 31 to June 1, 1921, a white mob violently attacked the Black people, their homes and businesses in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. For decades there were no news reports despite the fact that hundreds of Blacks were killed and thousands were left homeless.

The massacre began on May 31, 1921 and was sparked by a 17-year-old white female elevator attendant claiming to be offended by a 19-year-old Black man. What that exact offense was is unknown. The story was hyped up in the local newspaper reports calling for the arrest of the young Black man. A white mob quickly gathered to serve vigilante justice as was the tone during that day and time. They were met by African American soldiers whose intent was to protect the young man.

At the end of the violence, 35 blocks of what had been a bustling, business hub and commonly known as Greenwood's Black Wall Street was completely destroyed.

The Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma was a thriving city within a city—it was economically independent, a self-contained symbol of pride, and proof of the success and wealth accomplished by the Black race. Subsequent generations of people, including those born and raised in Oklahoma, had never heard of the event until the 1990s.

Clara Rudisill-Odom

AAMHC Newsletter Editor

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What does it mean to be a Dad? This question was posed to a God-fearing man that is loved, adored and respected. As he paused in contemplation, his initial response was that it can mean different things to different people. He went on to say that for him it means loving unconditionally, giving as much wisdom as you can, and taking responsibility for the life that you helped to create. That's a pretty decent answer and very close to what the scriptures teaches us about Fathers and Fatherhood. You are encouraged to develop your own list of core values that define what it means to be a Dad.

As a gesture of gratitude and in celebration of Father's Day, to all Grandfathers and Fathers, Grandads and Dads, Pops, Papa and Pawpaw, or whatever your endeared title may be, the African American Museum of History and Culture of Loray Mill wishes each of you a Blessed and Happy Father's Day!!

On May 27, at the picnic shelter across the street from the Dallas High School Apartments, two sisters, Shirlene and Brenda Hoke, told their stories of growing up in the Jim Crow era in Dallas, NC from the the Black community's perspective. Present for their talk was Dot Guthrie and Karen Bringle of the African American Museum of History and Culture at Loray Mill and Tarik Cranke, videographer.

Shirlene announced that she had chosen the Dallas High School Apartments to be the setting for their talk because the building carried special meaning for her. The first time in her life that she experienced racial animosity occurred when she was walking with her brother pass the segregated Dallas High School to get to the bus that would take them to the Black High School in Lincolnton, several miles up the road. As they passed the school building, a white male student scowled at them and made a crude gesture. Later in life, as a music teacher, Shirlene became part of an integrated staff that taught an integrated student body in that very same school building. Her experience as a teacher and staff member was a positive one. She made friends with white teachers and was highly regarded by her students across racial lines.

Both Shirlene and Brenda noted that the textbooks they were given in school “had no place for us to write our names” because they came to them already having several years worth of use by the students in white schools. Some were so badly worn that “the backs had come off.” The teachers in their underfunded schools worked hard to compensate for the lack of resources. They were intent on doing their best to educate and care for their students, believing that “It takes a village . . .”

Shirlene and Brenda were the second and third children born to their parents, who had a total of six children. Their family was close-knit, and the importance of education was stressed by both parents. Neither of the sisters spoke of having discussions with their parents about racial issues. They seemed to adhere to the belief that things were just the way they were, and it was best to go along with the status quo. They did recall attending movies at the theater and being required to sit in the balcony. They spoke of establishments in town where they were not allowed to enter by the front door.

They both were aware of the Civil Rights Movement in the ‘60s and that the “Freedom Riders” came through Alabama where Shirlene was attending college. The sisters were ambivalent about whether they should have become activists themselves. Shirlene indicated that she was held back by fear and concern that activism could jeopardize the education her father had worked hard for her to attain. Brenda advanced her own education to the Ph.D. level and became a college professor of sociology. She was reminded of an unspeakable term that referred to people who stood back and did not become social change activists, but who nevertheless benefited from the efforts of those who did. Brenda pursued her career in Atlanta and New York. In her ongoing studies she has taken a special interest in how “race, class, and gender” intersect with status in our social systems.

Both sisters seemed to have found fulfillment in their teaching careers and continue to enjoy contact with former students. They take pleasure and pride in being involved in the lives of their siblings’ children and grandchildren, some of whom continue to live in the Dallas area.

These two sisters had much to impart to the many fortunate students over many decades. It seems apparent that they continue to have much to teach the rest of us. At one point, Shirlene asserted that her goal had always been to be “a credit to my race.” From the time spent with Ms. Shirlene Hoke and Dr. Brenda Hoke, this writer has concluded that each have accomplished this goal and are credits to “the human race.”

Karen Bringle, Writer

AAMHCLM Board of Director

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Newsletter Editor: Clara R. Odom

Contributors: Karen Bringle and Dot Guthrie

Background Photo: The Late Mr. James "Ed" Odom, Businessman