The Tulsa Star’s primary goal is to continue the crucial work that the original Tulsa Star began over 100 years ago: providing high-quality, truth-centered, justice-oriented investigative journalism aimed at highlighting the issues and concerns of the utmost importance to the North Tulsa community. In addition to faithfully carrying out this main journalistic focus, we also intend to produce quality pieces that allow individuals in the North Tulsa community to truly have a voice by showcasing the unique perspectives and incredible talent our community has to offer.
The Story Behind the Name
“The Tulsa Star [originally] came into being in 1912 as the Muskogee Star… It began life as a weekly transitioning to a daily at some point after editor and publisher Andrew Jackson Smitherman moved the paper to Tulsa in 1913. Also known as the Tulsa Daily Star, the paper championed African-American causes, promoting progress and stability within Tulsa’s black community until its dramatic and untimely demise following the Race Massacre of May 31, 1921.
Born in 1885, Smitherman began his newspaper career in 1908 as the traveling agent and advertising manager for William Henry Twine’s Muskogee Cimeter. The Cimeter concentrated on issues of race and politics for the advancement of the black community. After four years of working for Twine, Smitherman established the Muskogee Star, putting his own mark on the Cimeter’s efforts to improve conditions for African-Americans.
At the time of the Race Massacre, approximately 11,000 African-Americans lived in Tulsa. They owned and operated over 190 businesses in North Tulsa, a part of town known as “Black Wall Street.” It was in this flourishing neighborhood that Smitherman had moved the Muskogee Star in 1913. The Tulsa Star provided leadership and influence in shaping Tulsa’s black community. Smitherman advocated self-reliance and urged resistance to the mob violence and lynchings that were taking place throughout the United States. The Star also campaigned against perceived wrongdoings of the white… city administration and repeatedly criticized its actions towards the African-American community.
This distrust between city officials and the preeminent black voice in the community revealed the volatile mood in Tulsa leading up to the Race Massacre. On May 31, 1921, white mobs destroyed 35 blocks of North Tulsa, including Smitherman’s residence and the offices of The Star. Smitherman was forced to flee Tulsa when whites blamed him for inciting the ‘riot’. Smitherman moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, and in 1925 to Buffalo, New York, where he worked for various African-American newspapers. In 1932, Smitherman started the Buffalo Star, later named the Empire Star, and continued his mission until his death in June 1961 at which time the paper ceased publication.”
Provided by: Oklahoma Historical Society
Founder and Executive Editor
Timantha Norman is a writer, editor, researcher, and policy advocate. She studied at the Gaylord College of Journalism & Mass Communications at the University of Oklahoma, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from OU, and a Master of Public Administration degree with a focus in Public Policy from OU’s Tulsa campus. As a North Tulsa native, she is interested in reclaiming the history of Black Wall Street and pushing forward a community-centered narrative through the power of truth telling in written form.
Taylor Finley is a North Tulsa native and Booker T. Washington alumni. She is passionate about empowering the North Tulsa community, especially the youth. She believes in the power of storytelling and its ability to enlighten people and serve as a connector. She recently completed her undergraduate studies in Human Resource Management from Oklahoma State University.
Culture & Opinion Editor
Clemonce Heard (MFA: Oklahoma State University) is the 2019-2020 Ronald Wallace Poetry Fellow. His work has appeared in Obsidian, Ruminate, The Missouri Review & World Literature Today, among others. He was awarded an honorable mention in the 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, a runner-up for the 2018 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival Poetry Award, 2nd place in the 2018 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, 1st place in the 2018 Connecticut Poetry Award Contest and was a finalist in the 2019 Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize. He is a New Orleans native and Tulsa Artist Fellow.
Becca Lais originates from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. During her time as an undergraduate, she studied at the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, where she majored in Peace Studies with minors in Gender Studies and Philosophy. She moved to Tulsa six years ago with Teach for America and, while teaching, she decided to pursue her Master of Social Work at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. Becca is a Feminist and an advocate for change in her community. She is especially passionate about elevating the voices of the youth and supporting them in harnessing their potential. She is an avid reader, a continuous learner, and a growing story-teller.
Britni, a native of Dallas, Texas, moved to Tulsa, OK in 2015 to study International Community Development at Oral Roberts University. This alumna of Wiley College has helped organize networking events around Tulsa for Moxie Mixer, published poetry with J Parle Publishing Company and is a natural leader and engaging writer with a desire to utilize her varied experiences in contributing to the success of Tulsa’s growing community.
Raynell is a graduate of Oral Roberts University, holding a Bachelors of Science in Business Management. She grew up in Tulsa and is passionate about elevating and building power within her community. In everything she does, she seeks to live in honor of the ancestors and in service to their descendants.
Noelle Janak grew up in Tulsa and is a proud graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. They are currently a second-year doctoral student in Black Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Committed to the liberation of Black people, Noelle studies the connections between prison abolition, hip-hop, and the Black Radical tradition. They are particularly interested in re-imagining a world where public safety is actualized and, therefore, prisons and other carceral institutions do not exist.
Design and Digital Media