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Senator Lankford to Host Community Conversation at Tulsa’s Historic Big 10 Ballroom

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senator James Lankford will host a townhall-style Community Conversation in Tulsa on Thursday, October 12 at the historic Big 10 Ballroom. The event will showcase and celebrate the near completed renovation of the venue, which will operate as the A Pocket Full of Hope Community Revitalization Center at The Big 10 Ballroom. During the program, Lankford will deliver remarks on the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots, the revitilization of the community, and take questions from the audience. State Senator Kevin Matthews, Mayor G.T. Bynum, and Rep. Regina Goodwin will also deliver remarks. KRMG Radio’s Russell Mills will serve as the event emcee, and Metropolitan Baptist Church of Tulsa Pastor Ray A. Owens will deliver an invocation.

        WHAT: Community Conversation and Big 10 Ballroom Renovation Celebration 

        WHO: Senator Lankford, State Senator Kevin Matthews, Mayor G.T. Bynum, and Rep. Regina Goodwin

        WHEN: Thursday, October 12, 6pm – 8pm

        WHERE: Big 10 Ballroom, 1624 East Apache Street, Tulsa, OK 74106

The Big 10 Ballroom has been renovated by the A Pocket Full of Hope nonprofit after years of abandonment, but between 1948 and the mid-1960’s, it was a nationally known performance venue for African-American artists who were not welcome at mainstream white Jazz clubs and performance venues. It was a stop on what was known as the “Chitlin Circuit” that provided safe venues for black singers and musicians to perform as they toured across the United States. Legendary performers include artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, James Brown, Little Richard, B.B. King, Fats Domino, Ike and Tina Turner, the Temptations, and many others.

A Pocket Full of Hope is a nonprofit that engages at-risk youth in the creative arts during afterschool programs. During this October 12 celebration, there will be appearances and performances from A Pocket Full of Hope youth participants, and various musicians with connections to Tulsa, including Folami, vocalist with CHIC & Nile Rodgers, Bobby Eaton, former bassist with Natalie Cole, and the Jordan Hehl Trio jazz band. In addition to educational and self-esteem programs for youth in the community, the Ballroom, once completed, will also provide economic benefit and jobs to the community, as it will be used as a concert hall that can be rented out for special events.

The economic revitalization of North Tulsa and the Greenwood District has been a priority for Senator Lankford during his Senate service. Lankford has highlighted efforts like North Tulsa 100, a nonprofit that aims to locate 100 new and viable businesses and companies in the region by 2021, which is the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

On February 24, Lankford joined State Senator Matthews, Mayor Bynum, Oklahoma Historical Society Director Dr. Bob Blackburn, and others to announce the formation of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Centennial Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to educate Oklahomans and Americans about the Race Riot, the destruction of Black Wall Street, and its impact on the state and nation; remember its victims and survivors; and create an environment conducive to fostering sustainable entrepreneurship and heritage tourism within North Tulsa. In May 2016, Lankford delivered a speech on the Senate floor to recognize the Riot’s 95th anniversary. In December, Lankford toured the Tulsa Race Riot exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.