History of "all-black" Carter Co. town remembered

By: Alex Belser Email
By: Alex Belser Email

TATUMS, OK - The Langston University band will visit this town Saturday to remember its history as one of the state's "all-black" towns.

Lee and Mary Tatums settled here in 1895, creating one of several "all-black" towns across Oklahoma.

"The Indians had been pushed around and we as slaves had been pushed around," said Robert Walker of the American Legion in Ardmore, who is helping to organize Saturday's event.

"They were able to come in and establish ownership, property, and a township and be able to live as a person and not property," Walker said.

Today, fewer than 200 people live in Tatums, and there are no stores.

"We don't have any type of business or anything, so when they graduate from high school, they move off to attend school," mayor Jacqueline Williams said.

"Basically, the old timers have passed on and the place you are standing in front of used to be one of the booming barbeque places," resident Otis Franklin said, noting restaurants have moved out of town.

The USDA donated computers were donated to the town, but after three years the grant ran out, and the building closed.

Walker hopes that others will learn about the role Tatums and other towns played, creating a new beginning.

The band will perform and a film will be shown on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Ardmore Convention Center. The event is free and open to the public.

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