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Brady District name change riddled in controversy

This past summer, Tulsa City Council began a discussion of the Brady Arts District’s namesake, Wyatt Tate Brady.

Brady is commonly known as a founder and developer of Tulsa.

A 2011 article in “This Land Press” highlighted Brady’s involvement in the Ku Klux Klan, along with the 1917 Tulsa Outrage and 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.

Questions then arose as to whether or not the namesake of the Brady Arts District and Brady Street indirectly promoted those events almost a century later.

Tulsa City Council opened the floor to the Brady Arts District business owners and worked toward a compromise on the subject.

District 4 Councilman Blake Ewing said some citizens agreed it was an issue and others didn’t mind the spotty history.

“The way they understood it, it didn’t make sense to change the name,” Ewing said in an email statement. “Many of them, upon learning more about Tate Brady and the lasting effects of his actions  on Tulsa’s African American citizens, changed their minds and even emailed us to let us know.”

Chad Rodgers, Cain’s Ballroom general manager, said most of the business owners didn’t care.

“I feel like history is in the past,” Rodgers said. “We should just embrace our history.”

Rodgers said although Tate Brady brings connotations with racial tensions and the Ku Klux Klan, Martin Luther Boulevard and Reconciliation Park lie in the same area, which symbolizes how far society has evolved from segregation and racial prejudice.

“We have come so far,” Rodgers said.

On Aug. 15, Tulsa City Council voted 7-1 to change the Brady Street to M.B. Brady Street.

It will no longer be associated with Tate Brady and the Ku Klux Klan, but, rather, with Mathew B. Brady, a famed Civil War photographer.

They also voted to label a section of the street in the Inner Dispersal Loop with the name Reconciliation Way.

“I’m sure virtually no one is satisfied, which is far preferable to me over the alternative, which is that one side is satisfied, while the other side once again feels completely disregarded,” Ewing said.

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