The Oklahoma Eagle is a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based media company that disseminates news and information, a stout advocate for the African American community and those that champion equity for approximately 100 years. We have endured, with faith and the support of our communities, a century-long journey of shared struggles and triumphs for human rights, civic equality, economic enfranchisement and judicial reform.
The Oklahoma Eagle serves a print subscriber base throughout six Northeastern Oklahoma counties, statewide and in 36 U.S. states and territories and abroad. Proudly, we are the 10th oldest black-owned newspaper in the United States still publishing today.
Our legacy publication is tied to two historic newspapers, The Tulsa Star and the Oklahoma Sun. The Star was originally founded by publisher and editor Andrew Jackson Smitherman – who was also a justice of the peace and an attorney – as a daily newspaper, The Muskogee Star, in 1912. He was the first African American newspaper editor and publisher to produce a long-running daily in the state of Oklahoma. A year later, Smitherman moved to Tulsa and established the Tulsa Star. Smitherman hired businessman James Henri Goodwin, a Mississippi native with a fourth-grade education who migrated to Tulsa, as his business manager in 1916. Theodore Baughman, a pioneer in journalism in Kansas and Texas and a longtime advocate for racial equality, served as the Star’s managing editor.
With a desire to run his own newspaper, Baughman left the Star and established the competing Oklahoma Sun on June 20, 1920.
On May 31, 1921, a race massacre – ignited on a wave of sexual assault rumors after a black teen jostled accidentally against a white woman in an elevator inside the Drexel Building – plunged Tulsa into a week-long act of unprovoked violence against the city’s African American citizenry, economic, political and faith-based institutions. The deadly barbarian attack, which spanned every aspect of life within Tulsa, is recognized as one of the most heinous acts of domestic terrorism within the United States.
After losing the Star and his home in the massacre, Smitherman left Tulsa and eventually settled his family in Buffalo, New York.
Baughman remained in Tulsa, salvaged the Star’s equipment and renamed his newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, opening our first office at 117 North Greenwood Avenue. In 1933, James H. Goodwin’s son, Edward L. Goodwin, Sr., became interested in buying the newspaper, but was repeatedly rebuffed by Baughman.
In 1936, the younger Goodwin prevailed, and Baughman allowed him to invest capital in our newspaper. Goodwin became our sole owner after Baughman died in 1937, and he relocated us to 126 North Greenwood Avenue.
Edward Goodwin said he purchased the Eagle, because he was tired of being vilified by the white Tulsa “metropolitan press” that disparagingly labeling him as “the black mayor of the City of Tulsa… because of the fact that I had become involved in all of these illegal operations. … So, the metropolitan press was so strong in their accusations against me, I said, ‘Well, I guess this is a good thing for me to do. I’m going to buy one of these papers.’”
Goodwin said he was initially motivated to use the Eagle to help restore and reshape his reputation as a successful businessman. Goodwin said he also discovered that his mission was far more consequential as a newspaper owner. “… I decided that I would dedicate the rest of my life fighting for the things that I knew that black people needed and never had in order to elevate them to a higher social level, a higher economic level, then that they’d been accustomed to.” He stamped this mission below the masthead, “We Make America Better When We Aid Our People.”
Two years later, Goodwin moved our headquarters to 123 North Greenwood into a building owned by his father. In 1966, the Tulsa Urban Renewal Authority declared plans to build the Crosstown Expressway by bulldozing our land and displacing dozens of black-owned businesses and properties. We refused to move and built across the street a new, modern building at 122 North Greenwood. (the site today is ONEOK Field and home to the Tulsa Drillers’ Double A minor league baseball team). We remained in Greenwood until the 1980s, when we were forced to move – including to three different locations – before settling at our current headquarters, 624 East Archer Street, formerly home to Mabrie’s Garage and Storage.
We are the last survivor of the original black-owned businesses still operating within the historic Black Wall Street footprint.
Since then, we have maintained our mission through journalism and advocacy, which has led us to be nationally recognized as an award-winning newspaper. Through our existence, we have also published sister editions, The Okmulgee Observer, The Muskogee Independent (in the 1940s and later renamed as Eagle newspapers), The (Lawton, Oklahoma) New Community Guide, The Wichita (Kansas) Observer and an Oklahoma City Eagle edition.
Every member of the Goodwin family – including nine children and their children – has worked for us. Edward Goodwin’s wife, Jeanne, served as an editor, proofreader and wrote a weekly column “Scoopin’ the Scoop” for nearly 60 years.
Many notable alumni – from a Pulitzer Prize winner, to university professors and administrators, a White House official, daily newspaper editors, authors, civil rights activists, lawyers and judges, broadcasters, television executives, actors, professional athletes, ministers, legislators, CEOs, entrepreneurs and many more professionals – have launched their careers from working with us as journalists, advertising representatives, clerks, deliverers, janitors, paperboys and papergirls, press operators, photographers, designers, managers and other newspaper positions.
Today, James O, Goodwin, who was named our president and legal counsel in early 1970s, has served as a co-publisher since 1980 with his brothers, Robert Kerr Goodwin and Edward Lawrence Goodwin, Jr., before becoming our sole publisher in 2014. His daughter, Jeanne M., is our current editor.
The elder Goodwin and his three sons – Edward Jr., James and Robert – each have been inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, one of many where the family has been honored.
Our motto, “To Make America Better When We Aid Our People,” remains our charge to serve and to be a voice of all the people.
Our mission, “To amplify our core value of equity, through journalism and editorial” is the cornerstone of our continued success.
We would like to introduce you to the greatest publishing team beneath the sun.
Publisher: James O. Goodwin
Editor: Jeanne M. Goodwin
Website and Social Media: Fred Jones Jr.
Senior Contributor: Ray Pearcey
Graphics/Page Designer: Derek Sumner
Legal: David Cole
Your support matters. The Oklahoma Eagle subscribers are more than committed readers, they are a family of dedicated supporters who believe in our mission, and for this, we are forever greatful. We invite you to join our family by subscribing to The Oklahoma Eagle today.
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