OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Kevin Matthews is inviting the public to come learn more about rural Oklahoma and one of Oklahoma’s 13 surviving all-Black communities. Boley, in Okfuskee County, is one of the stops for a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit highlighting rural America. The exhibit, “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” will be open to the public from May 14 through June 25 at the Boley Community Center, 11 West Grant Street, with a special opening ceremony and ribbon cutting to be held this Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
“I want to commend the town of Boley and Project 2020, which is an effort to revitalize their downtown and fuel economic development in the community. This organization worked with Oklahoma Humanities to secure a grant for this Smithsonian exhibit,” said Matthews, D-Tulsa. “I see this as just the beginning of a larger effort to highlight our Black communities in Oklahoma, and the historic part our state has played in the civil rights movement.”
The Smithsonian exhibit will look at the past, present and future of rural communities in Oklahoma, including Boley. Matthews noted at one point, Oklahoma had more than 50 Black towns. Of the 13 that still survive, Boley is the largest. Matthews said that history and culture will be celebrated with the opening of the exhibit.
“We want to showcase Black excellence in every aspect, including rodeo, art, music, and featuring impactful speakers,” Matthews said. “One of the highlights will be a video screening of an all-Black production of ‘Oklahoma!’ The public is invited, and we hope everyone will join us for this special grand opening.”
Matthews said he has a goal of highlighting other historical events and attractions throughout the state, from Greenwood Rising, in Tulsa, to the Clara Luper Civil Rights Center planned for Oklahoma City, and more. He’s hopeful that eventually, some of these locations will be added to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, which includes more than 100 locations in about 15 states and Washington D.C. The trail features significant sites that were important to the movement for racial equality, but currently includes no locations in Oklahoma.
“Events like this one in Boley can help us shine a spotlight on Oklahoma’ rich history, and help educate our own citizens, and those across the country, of its importance,” Matthews said.
More information about the May 14 opening and the Smithsonian exhibit can be found at www.thetownofboley.org.
For more information, contact: Sen. Matthews at 918-955-2283 or Kevin.Matthews@oksenate.gov.