Opal’s Greenwood Oasis, a children’s book exploring the success and achievements of Black Wall Street before the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, was the bestselling children’s book on the Oklahoma Best-Sellers List last week. The List is based on the total number of book sales at Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City and Magic City Books in Tulsa
The book was created by Oklahoma artists and has been reviewed or featured in Foreword Reviews, Parade Magazine, PureWow, and the Black Wall Street Times.
Trey Ellis, an Emmy and Peabody winning producer for King in the Wilderness and True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality, calls the book “A beautiful and poignant reminder of the industry, joy and resilience of Black people in America.”
Written by Najah-Amatullah Hylton and Quraysh Ali Lansana with illustrations by Skip Hill, the book’s narrator, Opal Brown, takes readers on a tour of her neighborhood and home in 1921. One of the most prosperous Black communities in America, Greenwood is filled with thriving businesses and busy families. Opal notes that “we have everything we need, and everyone looks like me.”
“We want to thank the people of Oklahoma for supporting this beautiful book and passing on the history to their children. We can make a better future when we remember the past,” Shawn Crawford, the publisher of The Calliope Group, stated.
Carefully researched and historically accurate, Opal’s Greenwood Oasis allows children to experience the community Booker T. Washington would dub “America’s Black Wall Street.” The compelling story and Skip Hill’s stunning collage illustrations help to immerse children in the time and place that Opal calls home. From running an errand for her mother on the bicycle she has just learned to ride, to preparing for the Memorial Day community picnic, readers will learn what made Greenwood so special. Educators like Nicole Shaw look forward to bringing the book into their classrooms: “We get to see, from Opal’s point of view, how it was living in Greenwood . . . I cannot wait to introduce this book to my class of 3rd graders.”
Soon after the day narrated by Opal, Greenwood would be lost in the Tulsa Race Massacre, the worst act of racial violence in American history. Thirty-six blocks of homes and residences were burned to the ground with hundreds dying during the Massacre. Awareness of the event has recently been heightened with portrayals in popular shows like Watchmen and Lovecraft Country.
Opal’s Greenwood Oasis is available from the thecalliopegroup.com, independent bookstores, Bookshop.org, Amazon, and all major online book retailers.