Our Legacy Tulsa: Meet Greenwood Community Working Group Member, Eugene Harris
The Kirkpatrick Heights Greenwood Master Plan’s Community Working Group was created to ensure representatives of the North Tulsa community would directly inform and guide the implementation of the Plan. With community ownership as a guiding principle of this process, PartnerTulsa and the City of Tulsa convened this group of North Tulsa natives monthly to ensure the concerns and desires of residents were addressed and prioritized in the planning and implementation phases.
We connected with Eugene Harris, longtime Tulsa resident and dedicated member of the Working Group–to learn more about the vibrance of Greenwood and his hope for the future of the neighborhood.
Eugene was born and raised in Tulsa, and remembers the vibrance of Greenwood first-hand, as his father was the accountant for many of the resilient Black business owners on Greenwood Ave. after World War II. At the time of his retirement, Eugene was the Manager of Employee Development at ONE Gas and has sat as a director on various local governing bodies, including the board of directors of Morton Health Center, the Metropolitan and Hutcherson YMCA boards and Life Senior Services.
How have you been involved in efforts related to the Kirkpatrick Heights-Greenwood Master Plan?
I was introduced to the revitalization efforts through attending the University Park Homeowners Assn. meetings. Then, when PartnerTulsa began hosting community meetings, I made an effort to be a part of the conversation. It seemed like they made a huge effort to get feedback from the community, and a lot is riding on getting this done right. If we can ensure this involves the community and is sustainable, it can be a catalyst to reignite the development of Greenwood and North Tulsa. With that as my primary concerns, I attended 6-8 community meetings and ultimately was selected to be a part of the Working Group. In addition to attending meetings of the Working Group, I also conducted one on one listening sessions with North Tulsa residents and traveled to New Orleans to visit two organizations with missions similar to the Kirkpatrick Heights Greenwood Master Plan.
What is inspiring to you about this project? What is most exciting?
I am most inspired at the prospect of seeing the rebirth of Black Wallstreet that existed prior to urban renewal and the construction of the north leg of I-244, I remember from my youth growing up in the resurgence of the Greenwood area that occurred after the destruction of the 1921 Race Massacre. It’s exciting to see tourists come to the area because they know the history, that’s never happened until now.
What is your idea of legacy? What are your hopes for North Tulsa’s future?
One of the biggest factors of a family’s wealth is home ownership. Wealth doesn’t always equal large amounts of money in a bank account; however, leaving something behind for the next generation, particularly Black home ownership is my hope for the future. I’m glad to see efforts toward commercial development and a mixture of housing because we need it. I hope North Tulsa continues to grow sustainability in underdeveloped areas. Ultimately, I hope that the beacon of a new Greenwood area will again attract a mix of Black businesses and home ownership that will create Black wealth that will have a positive, transformational impact on all of Tulsa. Black Wall Street Reborn!
For the latest information on the Kirkpatrick Heights Master Plan, visit www.partnertulsa.org/KHGMP.