Terry Baccus, “Mayor” of the Greenwood District

I’d finished my tour of Greenwood Rising, but I wasn’t finished with Greenwood. The hours I spent in the museum still weighed on me. I thought about the victims, and the landscape, and how it looked today. I knew I would want to walk around the area, view the remains and reminders, and I wanted an expert to answer my questions. I booked a walking tour with Terry Baccus, the unofficial Mayor of the Greenwood District, when I created my Oklahoma itinerary. 

Terry met me in Greenwood Rising as I sat contemplating the massacre and how so many people worked together in official capacities to re-victimize the victims. Terry sat next to me, introduced himself, and we started our tour. 

Terry confirmed the “story” of why the race massacre happened was untrue. He said the two young people had a mutual relationship and the news of a pregnancy scare sent the young man running from the elevator. Everything else happened just as I learned at Greenwood Rising.

Terry pointed out the National Register of Historic Places (that the community worked decades to get) that gives recognition and some protections to the area.

He showed me the charred bricks used to rebuild buildings because insurance companies denied claims to survivors and they couldn’t buy new materials. Terry said it was a political move to prevent the residents from rebuilding because the land was valuable, desirable, and outside communities had plans for it. But the community rebuilt despite those barriers

Charred Bricks from the Greenwood District Massacre

Terry showed me the list of destroyed business at the Greenwood Cultural Center and said only one business received insurance compensation. He explained how the area is still economically suppressed made even more difficult when the expressway bisected the Greenwood District. Today Greenwood continues to fight for representation, justice, and equity.

List of destroyed Greenwood Businesses, photo by Terry Baccus

Terry said the untold stories of Greenwood must be told and shared. Greenwood was a joyful community, full of arts and opportunity. People thrived in Greenwood despite the segregation and racism they faced. The history of the Greenwood District should not and cannot be forgotten. The walking tour was exceptional and I will certainly book it again when I return. I know Terry will have unearth new information and made progress towards the documentary he’s working on. You can and you should book your tour with Terry here.

Black Wall Street Forever, photo by Terry Baccus