Preserving History: The Burleson Family Returns To Tulsa's Black Wall Street For Monumental Occasion

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This year makes 103 years since the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and many people are still learning about their family’s history of owning a business on Black Wall Street.

CBS Morning Anchor Nate Burleson, his wife and her family made a second trip to Tulsa to learn more about their history and how to preserve it. News On 6’s MaKayla Glenn interviewed the family about this monumental occasion.

Back in February of this year, Nate Burleson and his wife Atoya traveled to Oklahoma City and then to Tulsa. They spoke with family who have collected history about Atoya’s great grandfather Lafayette Wilson, owner of Lafayette Hotel, and his father, Hezekiah Wilson, owner of H.T. Wilson Real Estate, and another family business called The Wilson Barbershop.

“I think back to when I first started my own businesses and having that inside of me, didn’t really know where that came from. So, thinking about, knowing now what my grandfather and great grandfather did, I know where it comes from,” Atoya said.

Atoya’s mother, aunt, and cousin joined her and Nate during this trip.

“To know that we come from a family that were entrepreneurs, they worked hard and they created such wonderful things in life. To know that you come from that and that’s in your history, that’s the most exciting part to me,” Shaw said.

As you walk around Greenwood, you might come across historical plaques. They started being installed in the early 1990s and mid-2000s and represent the different businesses that once thrived on historic Black Wall Street. Now Atoya’s family gets a chance to help keep their legacy alive.

“I’m just so thankful and I’m grateful that they get this after all that they’ve been through,” Atoya said.

As the family watched while the plaques were being installed, they talked about what they hope their legacy adds to the already existing plaques.

“When they see that name, they see what lies here now and it makes them want to go find out more,” Atoya said.

The new plaques are located on the corner of Greenwood and Archer.