It is the Tulsa Story of a Man Named "Brady"

Jul 12, 2013

Tulsa's Brady District
Credit KWGS News

It is a story of a man named “Brady." Tate Brady. He moved to Tulsa in the late 1800s. He started a store and founded a hotel. He signed Tulsa original city charter.

Brady was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan; he may have played a role in the 1921 Tulsa race riot and was involved in trying to relocate Tulsa’s African-American Community. He wanted to seize the burned-out Greenwood area for warehouses.

Those last three items were not widely known, when the 200-block north in Tulsa was named after him, nor, when the Municipal Theatre became known as the “Old Lady on Brady”.  With the revitalization of the downtown area, Brady’s dark past was not widely known when the area became known as the “Brady Arts District”.

There is strong debate in our town over whether the Brady name should be erased. The Tulsa City Council can only change the name of the street.

Robert Flashman is with the Brady Arts Owners Association and the business association:

“We neither endorse nor refute any of his alleged leanings or actions. We have named our groups after the street that runs through our district, not an individual. We have done so, with no intention to be insensitive or disrespectful to any individuals or groups in our community.”

Meanwhile, Christy Williams wants all of the Brady names changed. She is with the Coalition for Social justice in Tulsa.

“The name, the Brady District, does not symbolize a unified Tulsa. It is an insult to the taxpaying survivors--- that are still here today--- from the 1921 race riot.”

The problem is not unique to Tulsa. It may surprise you that our nation has a history of naming things after people with a history of violent acts. While we don’t have a Fort Rommel or Camp Tojo, we do have military installations named for people who made war on the United States. There are 10-forts and camps named for Confederate Army Generals, who tried to divide the U.S. into two nations.

A recent Tulsa World poll showed overwhelming support for leaving the Brady names alone. However, that may point to a greater problem in our city. The poll numbers were split along Tulsa’s racial divide.