A Matic Road Trip (Part 2): Black Historical Landmarks From Missouri, Oklahoma, and Northern Texas
We’re back on the road with the next leg of our trip! In our last post, we left Matic’s Columbus Ohio office with the ultimate destination of our Phoenix, Arizona office. Along the way, we’re highlighting lesser-known landmarks within the Black community that have historical significance to our country’s history, particularly during the time of segregation.
On this part of the journey, we start off in St. Louis, Missouri. Then we’ll pass through the heart of Oklahoma and finally take a pit stop in northern Texas before we embark on the final leg of our trip. Through our partnership with Greenwood Seneca, we’re using The Green Books historic travel guides as inspiration for many locations on our trip.
Stop 1: Missouri
We’ve narrowed down our two Missouri picks to a historical location in St. Louis that played a pivotal role in the abolitionist movement of the 19th century, as well as a neighborhood in Jefferson City that was a Green Books favorite in the mid-20th century.
The Old Courthouse (St. Louis): The Old Courthouse is a must-see spot for any history buff who wants to visit the major milestones of our country’s fight for freedom. This is the location where Dred and Harriet Scott, an enslaved married couple in the 1800s, sued for their freedom based on Missouri’s “once free, always free” mandate.
While the couple ultimately lost their lawsuit that wound up in the U.S. Supreme Court, the legal decision fueled the abolitionist movement and contributed to the existing North-South tensions that led to the Civil War. Today, The Old Courthouse is home to several exhibits about the history of Black Americans in Missouri, including an in-depth tribute to Dred and Harriet Scott.
The Foot neighborhood (Jefferson City): As you travel west from St. Louis, Jefferson City makes a great stopping point. It was often recommended in The Green Books, particularly a neighborhood called The Foot. The Tops was a popular restaurant on Lafayette Street that not only served travelers and locals, but also music legends Tina and Ike Turner. The owners’ son, Glover Brown, played a pivotal role in naming The Foot a historic legacy district in Jefferson City.
Stop 2: Oklahoma City, OK
Halfway through this leg of our trip, Oklahoma City is home to a robust cultural history that you can explore today.
Deep Deuce neighborhood: The Deep Deuce neighborhood of Oklahoma City served as a hub for Black culture and community for decades. Students organized lunch counter sit-ins during the 1950s Civil Rights era and many artists and musicians lived and worked in the area — including author Ralph Ellison who wrote the literary classic, The Invisible Man. Today, Deep Deuce is home to local shops, restaurants, and hotels.
The Littlepage Hotel: Located in the historic Deep Deuce neighborhood, the Littlepage Hotel was one of many lodging recommendations in The Green Books. Brothers Junius Singleton and Alfred Louise Littlepage ran the establishment. The hotel housed many legends over the years, including Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, and Jackie Robinson. While the Littlepage Hotel is no longer in operation, the building still stands as an apartment building at 219 N. Central Avenue.
Stop 3: Amarillo, TX
Most of the Amarillo Green Books destinations have been demolished in recent years. However, there is still plenty of Black history and culture to uncover.
Black Historical Culture Center: Located in the North Heights neighborhood, Amarillo’s Black Historical Culture Center is home to community artifacts such as photos and Carver High School sports trophies. The Center also hosts private and public events. While in North Heights, check out Bones Hooks Park, named after one of the nation’s first Black cowboys who also became a beloved community leader.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church: Serving Amarillo for over 100 years, Mt. Zion was founded by several prominent Black leaders and served as a safe space to worship during the era of segregation. Today, its congregation is a melting pot of Amarillo residents and is one of the city’s oldest churches. You can find Mt. Zion at 118 S. Van Buren Street.
We’ll stop in Amarillo for now. Stay tuned for the final leg of the trip, where we’ll travel across New Mexico and reach our final destination of Matic’s office in Phoenix, Arizona.
Greenwood Seneca is an organization that brings awareness to sites of Black history at risk of being forgotten. Supporting Greenwood Seneca will help further their mission of inviting the community to connect with Black historical sites and creating a unique space for Black community members to reclaim joy and honor their history. Additionally, Greenwood Seneca’s scholarship program supports students enrolled in HBCUs.
Consider making a donation today. Individual donations to The Matic Cares Foundation are matched 100%, up to $10k annually: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=LD35KFCPH6WXL
Learn more about The Matic Cares Foundation here: https://matic.com/matic-cares/