By C.J. Webber-Neal

Eagle Photojournalist




Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell, a longtime resident of the Tulsa area, came to The Oklahoma Eagle last Friday to meet with Co-Publisher Jim Goodwin and Jerry Goodwin, president of Goodwin & Grant Public Relations Firm, to show his support for the renewal and development of the Black Wall Street District of Tulsa.

After the meeting, the Lt. Governor was asked not only about his thoughts concerning revitalizing of the area of the Greenwood District, but also what his vision as Lieutenant Governor was concerning Black Wall Street and moving forward?  Pinnell state, “So as Secretary of Tourism, certainly one of the projects that we’re looking at is what to do down here at Black Wall Street with the centennial coming up.  We realize the eyes of the world will be on this city (Tulsa) and on Black Wall Street. This area should be a gem, a ‘tourism gem’ for the State of Oklahoma, so it imperative that we be vigilant, and visibly here on Black Wall Street.  We want to commit to the truthful telling of this history, because it is important toward reconciliation.

Pinnell says he was told by the Tulsa Historical Society that most of the calls that they receive are about Black Wall Street, or when individuals call the City of Tulsa, or just in general ask about sites and historical places in Tulsa; the place people want to see is Black Wall Street.

Pinnell stated, “People from around the state and the world are mostly intrigued by the Greenwood area, so we know that the story needs to be told. We also know it needs to be told in the right way, so we’re making sure that we are in this community and partnering with  visionaries on what they want to be see; from what they want the brick and mortar to look like; to what they want the “Pathway To Hope” to look like; and to what they want this new redevelopment of Black Wall Street to look like. The thing we want to avoid is to just come in and tell the community what it needs to look like, but we certainly want to partner with the community, even from a financial perspective as well. So, we’re certainly looking at dollars that we can invest in Black Wall Street, and in the Greenwood area over the next few years as we lead up to this historic centennial commemoration.”

The Oklahoma Eagle asked Pinnell about his vision for the Tulsa north area as a state leader, and what the overall goals are for economic development and preserving the history of the area.  “You know, I think that certainly one of the visions that I have is not just telling the history of the community but the revival overall of the community. We need to do that by bringing back that entrepreneurial spirit of Black Wall Street, because the example of this exceptional communities greatness is here, it’s already happening in segments of growth and development, and our blueprint for excellence is already here through the history of what these citizens accomplished prior to the massacre. But if we as state officials can help to fast track that, to help foster that entrepreneurial spirit and small business growth that is already happening through the efforts of such entities as the Greenwood Cultural Center, then I believe we should take on that task. In the final analysis that’s really what we want to see for Greenwood and North Tulsa overall, further economic develop in this area, more small businesses moving into the Greenwood area, more entrepreneurs moving back to the city, back to the state, and back into both the North Tulsa area and the Greenwood district. That’s really the vision that we have in mind for the long-term.”

Pinnell went on the say, “Yes, we want tourists to come here because we have tourists come here and they are spending money in the community. So, we want those dollars to continue to circulate in the community.  But we also want and envision the entrepreneurship base coming back here, and we want those small businesses to come back permanently on top of everything else that we’re doing from a tourist attraction perspective.”

Pinnell adopted a slogan he used during the 2018 campaign, where he told audiences that we needed to all be “One Oklahoma” during campaign events,  and he said then that he didn’t envision it as a republican or democratic state, but he envision all of us building one state together. Based on this, The Oklahoma Eagle asked Pinnell if he thought that was going to be possible, not only by the projects he has committed to for Black Wallstreet development, but just generally overall in the sense of his vision for the state of Oklahoma.  Pinnell replied, “I do continue to believe that, absolutely I really do. I mean, it is about ‘One Oklahoma’. It’s about rebranding the state of Oklahoma. As Lieutenant Governor, I’m both Secretary of Tourism and branding. So, we’re launching a whole new branding campaign in the state that we’re very excited about.  In our state, it shouldn’t be republican versus democrat or rural versus urban. I understand that this happens a lot in this state, but I am committed to the ideal that we are ‘One Oklahoma’, and if we’re not 77 counties strong that we’re not going to be a strong state. We can’t just be a couple of counties, or cities, or individuals strong, we all have to come together, by whatever means we can to make this a strong state, and so yes, that is what I’m working for, and we’re going to be tenacious about that over the next four years.” #Greenwood #BlackWallStreet