United States: Radical Oklahoma

United States
July 6, 2014July 13, 2014

Join Global Exchange at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, and spend some time learning about the tumultuous events of the early twentieth century that shaped Woody’s politics and united white tenant farmers, native tribes, and African-Americans in a series of uprisings in the forested hills of eastern Oklahoma.

The state of Oklahoma has a reputation for being perhaps the most conservative state in the union.  In fact, it has a radical past unmatched for activism and racial solidarity – an activism exemplified in its most famous native son, Woody Guthrie, the radical Dust Bowl troubadour.

American progressives in the early 20th century achieved a large degree of success in Oklahoma. The Socialist Party, for example, had its highest per-capita membership in Oklahoma at this time with 12,000 dues-paying members in 1914, publication of dozens of party newspapers,and the election of several hundred local elected officials. Much of their success came from their willingness to reach out to Black and American Indian voters (they were the only party to continue to resist Jim Crow laws). Oklahoma also delivered presidential candidate Eugene Debs his highest vote count in the nation in 1912.

We will tour the region around Okemah, Woody’s birthplace, with local experts on Oklahoma’s radical history who will guide us to historic sites of this tumultuous region. The tour will climax with the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, in his home town of Okemah.

Please note: participants should arrive and depart from the Tulsa International Airport. for a detailed itinerary.

Email Jenny for a detailed itinerary.

Read the first part of a series of 6 blog posts written by Rachel Jackson the tour leader for this trip.

Program Highlights may include: 
  • Four days of music and celebration at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in his hometown, Okemah
  • Visit the site of the Green Corn Rebellion, an armed uprising that took place in rural Oklahoma in 1917. Triggered by opposition to World War I and the draft, this Rebellion actually grew from long-standing grievances of poor tenant farmers, assaults on Native American land rights, and a long history of racism against African-Americans who had fled the deep South
  • Go to the Muscogee Nation Museum and learn about the Crazy Snake Uprising, led by a Muscogee Creek leader named Chitto Harjo (Crazy Snake), who led the resistance to the US government’s determination to take over the tribes’ communally owned land
  • Explore an all-Black township, one of many that grew in Indian Territory after the Civil War when former slaves settled together for mutual protection and economic security
  • Visit the site of the infamous “white riots” of 1921 that destroyed the prosperous Greenwood District of Tulsa, also known as 'the Black Wall Street,' where ideologies of economic advancement were built on the ideas of self-help and racial solidarity
  • For the first four days, relax each evening at lakeside cabins in one of Oklahoma’s beautiful state parks. Then move to accommodations close to the Woody Guthrie Festival
$1,050 8-10 participants; $1,275 5-7 participants
Price Includes: 
  • Double-room accommodations; on-ground transportation including airport pick-up (July 6) and drop-off (July 13)
  • Global Exchange trip leader
  • Local experts on Oklahoma’s radical history
  • Preparatory reading and orientation materials
  • Admission and fees to all program activities
  • Two meals a day (breakfast and dinner)
  • NOT INCLUDED: airfare, lunches, tips, and personal expenses. Single rooms might be available for an additional supplement
How to Register: 

We must receive your application and a non-refundable deposit of $400 by June 3, 2014. Payments by Mastercard, Visa and Discover are welcome.

To ensure that all participants can plan accordingly, the minimum number of participants must be reached within 30 days before departure, or the trip will be canceled. Registered participants can choose to receive a full refund or transfer to a future group. Once a trip is confirmed (reaches the minimum # of participants) registrations may be accepted up to 1 week before departure.

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