Join Oklahoma’s First Black Towns Motorcycle Tour on Labor Day Weekend
By Danielle Dorsey
Black motorcyclists in Oklahoma have designed a tour that celebrates the state’s role in Black history. The ride is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, giving participants plenty of time to enjoy Oklahoma’s rural scenery and to visit the 13 historically Black towns that continue to thrive today.
Tour organizer Derrick E.D. Smith Jr. told Oklahoma newspaper, The Edmond Sun “I’m doing this to re-establish the foundation of black excellence in Oklahoma and the riders will be making a contribution to that with their participation.”
Riders have the option of starting in Langston and visiting all 13 towns on August 31st or beginning in Rentiesville and visiting nine towns. Riders who opt for the Rentiesville route will have the opportunity to attend the Dusk Till Dawn Blues Festival that starts on August 30th.
Riders who depart at 9 am in Langston will visit Boley, Clearview, and Grayson, with ten minutes allotted for each stop and information provided about local points of interest. Boley is home to the first nationally-chartered Black-owned bank and home of the first Black-owned telephone and electric companies. Riders will also visit Taft, which is home to America’s first Black female mayor, Lelia Foley-Davis, who was elected in 1973.
Both groups will break for lunch in Honey Springs, the site of one of the most racially diverse of the Civil War battles. There were Native Americans fighting on both sides and the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry fighting for the North.
Across the street from the battlefield, riders can visit the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame which honors legends like Earnest ‘Harmonica Slim’ Carr, John Seymour, Freddy Lee Rice, and Jim Donovan. Afterwards, riders will head to Vernon, Lima, and Brookville and are scheduled to arrive in Tatums at 6:30 pm. Tatums is where the silent film “Black Gold,” which featured an all-Black cast, was shot in 1927.
The evening program includes a concert by Lil G of the R&B group Silk and jazzy renditions from the 411 Band. The site is Smith’s family’s property and he’s offering free camping to tour participants.
Hotel rooms have been reserved in Guthrie for participants who start in Langston, home to Langston University, Oklahoma’s only HBCU. Rooms in Rentiesville and Tatums have also been reserved. Registration is $50 and includes lunch, dinner, the concert, and a tour patch.
Smith’s Black Towns Motorcycle Tour will also assist in launching the Black Towns Leadership Foundation, which hopes to establish Christmas light displays in each town and bring together organizations to assist in the upkeep of the towns.
For more information email Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.