When I was 16 I wrote a letter to the local CBS station. Clayton Vaughn was the reporter in Tulsa and every Friday night he would read a letter from the community or do his own editorial. In the days preceding my letter the city of Tulsa had been discussing reviving downtown. I was very angered by this. I grew up near downtown in a lovely home, surrounded by others like it. The city had been implementing “urban renewal” which in the 60’s and 70’s became a code phrase (the first of many such codes for taking over our lives and ripping us off I would come to learn) for tear it down, kick out whomever and make money by building something no one wants. Downtown Tulsa had the largest art deco architecture in the country. It was the oil capital because of all the companies that were located there. During the boom days the buildings built by these rich oil barons rivaled New York in beauty and craftsmanship. It also had a viable and growing black business district which came to be known as the black Wall Street. During the 70’s there was an almost delicious desire to tear down all of the old buildings and put up big new buildings. I watched as business was driven out and the Williams Center run by the Williams brothers, our own Koch brothers of Tulsa. They took over block after block of art deco buildings and tore them down. I remember hearing many complaints about their heavy handedness in the city. They focused their attention it seemed on political rivals and almost entirely destroyed the Black Wall Street. Archer and Greenwood barely survived due to a cry from the black community. They managed to designate the region historic. As did the Maple Ridge neighborhood. I was in Jr. Achievement in 9th grade and our group did a good job and as a reward got to have lunch with the Pres. Of First National Bank of Tulsa. The sky line of Tulsa is recognizable to the world because of this art deco building and its brightly lit green pyramid pinnacle. I asked the Pres. If they would tear down the bank and the Pres. responded “over my dead body!”. The art deco architecture was chronicled by a woman who saw what was happening and photographed and published a book. We owned one of these photo coffee table books. Tulsa now has a heritage and preservation organization because of what was happening when I was a teen.
The City also loved highways. They planned to run a large overhead highway down riverside along the Arkansas which was ultimately killed. When other cities like El Paso were turning their riversides into green parks Tulsa’s was left to go wild with pot growing, dead gar and pollution from upstream sewage and refinery run off. This too was pushed back and eventually the Riverside Park was born thanks to community effort. I went to Tulsa Central High. Central was the first high school in the city. It was a hundred years old when I graduated in 1976.\; the last class to do so. The school was shut down over much protest. This was after the city destroyed an entire neighborhood of middle class homes. There used to many famous folks who graduated from Central, Loretta Young, Jack Lemmon and many of leaders of the town. It was naturally integrated due to its location. It was a wonderful building and school. I still have dreams about it. They put in a mile and half bit of highway through the old neighborhood. I walked to school through an area that looked like a war zone of abandoned homes snatched by the city to give some good old boy a sweet heart contract. They created a hangman’s noose of highway around downtown, destroyed buildings, closed schools, business left the area for the burbs and NOW they wanted to rejuvenate downtown. Clayton Vaughn read my letter.
I learned at 16 about corruption in politics. I thought erroneously that it was only hick town Tulsa with its small mindedness. I was very excited about voting at 18. I was a member of the first generation to get to do so at that age. Went to college the fall of 76 in theatre so to say the least I can be as dramatic as they come. I got into terrible fights regarding Reagan. My mother said if you want to know how a person would be as Pres. see how they were as Gov.’s . Reagan was a John Bircher, a bigot. He didn’t start out with his free market views he was paid to acquire his views. He was an actor that is all. He went with the character that was required of him.
We who knew then what this man had wrought in California would be brought to the national stage as it were. I couldn’t understand then and still don’t ,why people like my mother thought God talked to Reagan.
I have been writing letters, signing petitions, pissing people off all around me for decades now. I helped stop Black Fox by running a summer long garage sale till my marriage fell apart. (not related). I have joined till I am blue in the face, Sierra club was a coffee klatch. All the independent parties only care about single issues. The dems are Blue dog, scratch the surface find red underneath. You know how I feel about the Repubs. I am no doubt on some black list among the elite, or at least a one page dossier with the FBI. Haven’t had them come to the door yet, so probably not, just my ego there.
What I resent at the age of 54 is the way I am viewed as an old white woman. Given the characterization of the media of old women it is assumed I am a conservative tea bag lady who hasn’t any education or voted any way other than what my church or husband tells me. I am not a conservative nor am I church goer. I resent the idea that my 54 year old ass had anything to do with the state of corporate take-over. That the minute I learned anything I did caused harm I have changed my ways, after all I am subject to the same brain washing all my life as the rest of you. There is nothing worse than finding out that things you believed in are not true. It hurts like hell, but reality is far more desirable. The truth will set you free has new meaning these days of media propaganda that makes the former USSR and Nazi Germany look progressive. Free your mind with the truth. Don’t make assumptions about anyone whether they are with you or against you. You don’t know. Ask first.
As I was writing this late last night, the fascist corporate state raided OWS in the middle of the night. Thieves of democracy think they are stopping Occupy and the 99%. I am so angered and feel helpless in the face of repeated injustice here and worldwide. Corporations are killing democracy and our planet. This feudalist corporate empire will collapse on its own weight. We must recognize this and hunker down, prepare to help each other. I suggest an Occupy currency. One we use in community just like the kind used in markets and towns all over the world.