Tyler Lockett is doing his part to educate others about the legacy of Black history in his home state of Oklahoma. A star receiver at Kansas State and now a standout for the Seattle Seahawks, Lockett is teaming up with Fulton Street Books & Coffee — located in Tulsa, his hometown — to create a series of bookmarks. The bookmarks (16 in all) feature a likeness of Lockett on one side; on the other is a fact about Black history in Oklahoma.
The bookmarks, which are being called the “Black History Collection,” can be purchased on the bookstore’s website. Two packs of eight go for $16; all 16 can be had for $30. Half of the proceeds will go to Fulton Street, which is the only Black-owned bookstore in Tulsa. The other half will go to Black-owned businesses in Oklahoma, which will be chosen by Lockett and his uncle, former K-State receiver Aaron Lockett. (The elder Lockett helped to start the project.)
The timing of the bookmarks’ release isn’t coincidental: It’s been 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre, when armed white residents attacked Black citizens and their homes and business. At the time, it was one of the wealthiest Black neighborhoods in the United States, and came to be known as “Black Wall Street.” During the massacre, more than 35 square blocks of the neighborhood burned to the ground.
Lockett said “it’s very important” more people begin to learn about one of the darker chapters of American history.
“A lot of people don’t really understand the history and what took place,” Lockett told the Seahawks’ website. “A lot of that was even swept away, and people are just now starting to hear about it. ... This is the 100th year that’s coming up this month, and so with it being 100th year, (we wanted to be) able to talk about the history of what it was like in Oklahoma, how growing up was in Oklahoma, because it was a place where African Americans excelled. It was a place where they called it ‘Little Africa.’ It was a place where people were doing great things in business and all that different type of stuff.”
The series of bookmarks, Lockett said, is an opportunity to reinvest in Black-owned businesses.
“Invest in ourselves, into the community of African Americans that are doing great things in business,” he said. “And this is a way that we thought it could be something that could be really cool.”
Yet the bookmarks are just one way Lockett has devoted his time, and money, back to Tulsa. He will fund 12 scholarships, worth $10,000 apiece, for college-bound graduates originating from one of the six high schools in the Tulsa Public Schools system.
“We wanted to be able to invest in them,” Lockett said. “We want them to know that they deserve to shine. And we get it, circumstances prevent people from doing a lot of things. Sometimes the family that you grow up in prevents you from a lot of things because you have to make sacrifices.
“But what we want to do is to invest in them so they can see just how important they are — that we believe in them as well. Hopefully they take advantage of that and they become whoever they dreamed of becoming and they can use what has happened with us, and them, to be able to go and inspire the next generation to come.”