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Welcome to Langston!


Green Leg

Langston was founded in 1890 as a part of the movement to establish Oklahoma as an All-black state. It was named after John Mercer Langston, a black U.S. representative in Virginia, and dubbed “The Only Distinctively Negro City in America.” It is one of only 2 all-black towns surviving that were founded in Oklahoma Territory. E.P. McCabe, a black state auditor in Kansas, who would go on to become the father of the black town movement, purchased 320 acres near Guthrie after the first land run and founded the town of Langston on October 22, 1890. The land was claimed originally by Charles Robbins, a white man, as blacks were pushed to the back of the enormous crowds of whites who participated in the famous first land run on April 22, 1889. Six hundred people lived in Langston by 1892 and James Robinson was the town’s first mayor. A common school serving 135 students was established the same year. Also, by that time, 25 retail businesses and a bank had been established. Langston University was established in 1898 as the furthest west of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. In 1943, the Julius Rosenwald Fund gave Langston University a grant to study the social dynamics of the black towns in Oklahoma. Six of those communities, including Langston, were studied. Oklahoma Civil Rights activist Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher graduated from LU with a bachelor’s degree before applying to attend the all-White University of Oklahoma School of Law in 1946. Fisher was denied and a lawsuit was filed by the NAACP. The great American lawyer and first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall represented her in the case. This led to the eventual desegregation of the University of Oklahoma in 1948 when G.W. McLaurin, a native of the black town of Brooksville, the other surviving town founded in Oklahoma Territory, was admitted ending 56 years of segregation at OU almost 10 years before schools began to desegregate nationwide. Fisher would go on to enroll at the OU School of Law completing her degree in 1951. Having who she called America’s greatest attorney fighting on her behalf impacted her life. Before she passed away in 1995, Fisher served on the Oklahoma University Board of Regents, the governing body of the institution, bringing the trailblazing life event full circle. Langston boasts the legacy and existence of its historically Black University. The population is currently about 1,800. Langston is located 42 miles north of Oklahoma City. The quiet, yet symbolic testament of black excellence is the starting point along the Green Leg of the 13 Black Towns Tour which takes place every Labor Day Weekend in Oklahoma.

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