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Inaugural history and American Indian studies lectureship

Inaugural history and American Indian studies lectureship at NSU to feature speaker on Tulsa Race Massacre’s impact

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) — Northeastern State University’s Speaker William P. Willis and Zelma Bynum Willis Endowed Lectureship on History and American Indian Studies will debut with a focus on the impact of the Tulsa Race Massacre 100 years later.

Hannibal B. Johnson, attorney and author of “Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples with its Historical Racial Trauma,” will discuss his book and the Tulsa Race Massacre virtually on April 21 at 6 p.m.  Johnson will provide details on the early efforts to cover up the massacre and current activities to uncover mass graves. He will also be discussing how area citizens can honor the lives, homes and businesses lost in Black Wall Street a century ago and how to learn more about the aftermath.

The purpose of the Speaker William P. Willis and Zelma Bynum Willis Endowed Lectureship on History and American Indian Studies is to bring high-caliber speakers to the NSU Tahlequah campus annually to discuss history and/or American Indian Studies. The lectureship was established in May 2019 by Diane J. Willis, PhD, the daughter of Speaker William P. “Bill” Willis and Zelma Bynum Willis, with funds also donated by many family and friends, as well as Cherokee Nation Businesses. Speaker Willis was known as the “Kiowa from Tahlequah” and served in the Oklahoma State Legislature from 1959 through 1986.  He served as Speaker for three terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1973 to 1978, only the second person in state history to do so.  

Johnson will be the first speaker for this newly endowed lectureship. His appearance is cosponsored by NSU’s Department of History and the NSU Center for Women’s Studies.

 “As we approach the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the NSU History Department reached out to the NSU Foundation to help with an event for NSU students and the community,” Peggy Glenn, NSU Foundation executive director, said. “A new endowed lectureship, the Speaker William P. Willis and Zelma Bynum Willis Lectureship on History and American Indian Studies was ready to debut, so, we combined those efforts to find someone who could speak with authority about Black Wall Street. When we met to discuss possible speakers, each of us had the same name at the top of our list, Hannibal B. Johnson.”

Those interested in viewing the lecture can do so via NSU Foundation’s Facebook live, www.facebook.com/NSUFoundation. The lecture can also be viewed via Zoom by preregistering at http://bit.ly/BlackWallStreet100 (this link is case sensitive).