Author Hannibal B. Johnson: The Sawners and the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Commission
This is a radio show. Call in number 310-861-2349. The broadcast will be Tuesday 5 June 2018 at 8 AM Pacific to 10 AM.
This show will be with author Hannibal B. Johnson. We will be discussing his books about the Sawners of Chandler and the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Commission.
Hannibal B. Johnson is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He did his undergraduate work at The University of Arkansas, where he completed a double major in economics and sociology. Johnson is an attorney, author, and independent consultant specializing in diversity & inclusion/cultural competence issues and nonprofit governance. www.hannibalbjohnson.com.
Juxtaposed against the grim realities of black life at the turn of the twentieth century, the lives of George and Lena Sawner shone like the blazing sun on an oven-hot August day in Oklahoma. Educated, professional, and economically stable—well-off by most standards—the Sawners lived the American dream, accompanied, periodically, by nightmarish reminders of the realities of race.
The couple owned a home, rental property, stocks, businesses, and two cars. They hobnobbed with local, state, and national dignitaries. They vacationed in faraway places like Montreal, Canada. The Sawners excelled in their respective spheres and claimed the social, political, and economic accoutrements commensurate with their successes. Material trappings and stature aside, the Sawners never severed their roots.
Despite their undeniable attainments, the Sawners, like other African Americans in Oklahoma, often swam against the current, regularly battling waves of bigotry and intolerance. Reminiscent of the Jim Crow South, the political waters in Oklahoma, particularly as they cascaded over racial matters, became increasingly contaminated.
This is their story--a tale of triumph amidst a backdrop of tragedy. George and Lena Sawner lived and, through their living, enhanced and enriched our lives in ways great and small.
Hannibal B. Johnson
- Apartheid in Indian Country? looks at the controversy over the citizenship status of the descendants of persons of African ancestry who lived among the Five Civilized Tribes, the “Freedmen.” The ancestors of some of the Freedmen were enslaved by the Five Tribes, while others were free persons living among those tribes. The Freedmen claim treaty, blood, and affinity relationships to the Five Tribes. [Audience: high school students and adults] (Eakin Press; ISBN 13: 978-1-935632-34-4)
o Black Wall Street traces the history of Tulsa’s African-American community, renowned nationally in the early twentieth century for its preeminent Black entrepreneurs. Tulsa was the site of the worst race riot in American history in 1921. Some 300 people were killed and property damage ran into the millions. Tulsa’s African-Americans overcame. The Greenwood District was rebuilt and, by 1942, boasted 242 black-owned and black-operated business establishments. The book is a testament to the human spirit. [Audience: high school students and adults] (Eakin Press; ISBN 193464538-9)
- Up From The Ashes tells the story of the development, destruction, and rebuilding of a dynamic neighborhood from a child’s perspective. Based on actual historical events, it is a positive, life-affirming book. Readers will discover what it means to be part of a community, with all its ups and downs. The book demonstrates many of the timeless virtues we all cherish, not just for ourselves, but for our children: faith, determination, integrity, humility, and compassion. [Audience: elementary school students] (Eakin Press; ISBN 978-1-940130-43-9)
o Acres of Aspiration tells the story of the all-Black towns in Oklahoma. Prominently in Kansas, then principally in Oklahoma, all-black towns founded by black seekers mushroomed in the post-Reconstruction era. Weary Southern migrants formed their own frontier communities, largely self-sustaining. Black towns offered hope—hope of full citizenship; hope of self-governance; and hope of full participation, through land ownership, in the American dream. Despite an auspicious beginning, the all-black town movement crested between 1890 and 1910, a time when American capitalism transitioned from agrarian to urban. This and a host of other social and economic factors ultimately sealed the fates of these unique, historic oases. Many perished. Most faded. Only the strong survived. The few that remain serve as testaments to the human spirit and monuments to the power of hope, faith, and community. [Audience: high school students and adults] (Eakin Press; ISBN 1-57168-664-9)
- Mama Used to Say captures one mother’s wit and wisdom on a whole host of twelve select topics: life & living; family & relationships; right & wrong; money & work; time; success & failure; race; religion; love; respect; education; and integrity. At once witty and poignant, Mama Used to Say, through its anecdotes, adages, meditations, and reflections, offers the reader opportunities for self-examination and personal growth. The common thread running through Mama Used to Say is the universality of a mother’s love and seemingly boundless capacity for nurturing, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. [Audience: high school students and adults] (HAWK Publishing; ISBN 1-930709-46-3)
o IncogNegro recounts, poetically, stories of race and diversity. Listen. Listening breeds empathy, evokes compassion, and moves us a step closer to walking the proverbial mile in someone else’s shoes. Everything begins with that first step. Ultimately, like actors on the world stage, each of us has some role, however small, to play in fostering an accepting, inclusive, diverse community. [Audience: high school students and adults] (PublishAmerica; ISBN 1-60474-696-3).
o Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District recounts the Greenwood story in captioned photographs. [Audience: high school students and adults] (Arcadia Publishing; ISBN 978-1-4671-1128-7)
o The Sawners of Chandler: A Pioneering Power Couple in Pre-Civil Rights Oklahoma tells the story of a remarkable early twentieth century African American couple in Oklahoma [Audience: high school and adults] (Eakin Press; ISBN-13: 978-1-68179-118-0)
Hannibal B. Johnson, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is an author, attorney, educator, and consultant.
Hannibal B. Johnson, Esq.
Author, Attorney & Consultant
121 North Greenwood Avenue, Suite “G,” Tulsa, Oklahoma 74120
918.585.6770 (office); 918.406.8934 (cell); email@example.com
Hannibal B. Johnson is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He did his undergraduate work at The University of Arkansas, where he completed a double major in economics and sociology. Johnson is an attorney, author, and independent consultant specializing in diversity & inclusion/cultural competence issues and nonprofit governance. Johnson has also served as an adjunct professor at The University of Tulsa College of Law (legal writing; legal ethics), Oklahoma State University (leadership and group dynamics; business law [MBA Program]), and the University of Oklahoma (ethics; cultural diversity; race & reason; The 1921 Tulsa Race Riot; nonprofit leadership & management).
Johnson is past president of Leadership Tulsa, the Metropolitan Tulsa Urban League, and the Northeast Oklahoma Black Lawyers Association. He served as chair of the board of directors of The Community Leadership Association, an international leadership organization, during 2001 – 2002, is a founding director of the Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and is past chair of the board of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. He has also served on the Oklahoma Advisory Committee for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Johnson directed Anytown, Oklahoma, a statewide human relations camp for teens, for more than a decade. He has served on the board of Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma and on the Advisory Board of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference of the Southwest. Johnson served as chairman of board of directors of The Rotary Club of Tulsa, 2015 – 2016, chaired the Club’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee during that same period, and is the Club’s President for 2018 - 2019. He has served on the Institutional Review Board for Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, and is past chair of the board of directors of the Foundation for Tulsa Schools. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Humanities Council. He served on the Programs Committee for the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation and organized the Center’s annual symposium for several years. In 2004, Johnson graduated with the inaugural class of the national “Connecting Community Fellowship Program” based in Richmond, Virginia.
Johnson’s books include: Images of America: Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District; Black Wall Street--From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District; Up From the Ashes—A Story About Community; Acres of Aspiration—The All-Black Towns in Oklahoma; Mama Used To Say—Wit & Wisdom From The Heart & Soul; No Place Like Home—A Story About an All-Black, All-American Town; IncogNegro—Poetic Reflections on Race & Diversity in America; Apartheid in Indian Country?: Seeing Red Over Black Disenfranchisement and The Sawners of Chandler: A Pioneering Power Couple in Pre-Civil Rights Oklahoma. Johnson’s play, Big Mama Speaks—A Tulsa Race Riot Survivor’s Story, has been performed at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Philbrook Museum of Art, and at the Just Governance for Human Security Conference in Caux,Switzerland. Big Mama was selected for the 2011 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Johnson is a contributing writer to the Encyclopedia of African American History (New York, New York: Facts on File, Inc. 2010), penning two articles: Langston, Oklahoma and the Birth of the All-Black Town Movement; and Edward Preston McCabe—The Father of the All-Black Town Movement).
Johnson’s honors include: the 2016 Whitney M. Young, Jr., Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America; the 2015 National Philanthropy Day Award for Diversity and Inclusion from the Association of Fundraising Professionals; the 2013 “The Inclusives” diversity award from Tulsa’s Young Professionals; the 2012 “Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award” from the Oklahoma Bar Association; the “Don Newby/Ben Hill” award from Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry; the “Keeping The Dream Alive” award from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Society; the “Outstanding Service to the Public Award” from the Oklahoma Bar Association; the “Ten Outstanding Young Tulsans” award from the Tulsa Jaycees; the “Distinguished Leadership Award” from the National Association for Community Leadership; the 2005 “Ralph Ellison Literary Award” from the Black Liberated Arts Center; the 2006 Oklahoma Human Rights Award from the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission; induction into the 100 Black Men of Tulsa, Inc. “Hall of Honor” in 2007; and the “Goodwill Appreciation Award” from the Islamic Society of Tulsa in 2008.
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