April 13, 2024

Feature stories


Exploring Oklahoma City

I chose Oklahoma City as my Thanksgiving travel destination in 2023  for three compelling reasons: I’d never been there, the Tulsa Race Massacre haunts me, and intriguing facts about Oklahoma’s  Native American and Black History  (particularly that of Bass Reeves) drew my attention. The word “Oklahoma” actually means “red people” as various tribes, including the Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chickasaw and Choctaw were mainly there. In addition, a little research revealed that between 1865 and 1920, there were approximately 50 all-Black towns in Oklahoma!

I persuaded my son, Tye Feimster, to join me on this excursion. With great anticipation, we boarded a non-stop flight to Oklahoma City that took less than two hours on Thanksgiving morning. Upon arrival, we Uber-ed to our Hampton Inn & Suites hotel in the famous Bricktown section of the city and settled in. Bricktown was not all that. The restaurants were not enticing, and shopping in this area had a lot to be desired. No Black art. No unusual clothing shops. Walking along the Bricktown Canal was nice, though. Oh well, on to the museums.

We first visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum that honors victims and survivors who were impacted by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. It was a very sobering experience, showing that evil is no respecter of persons.

My favorite museum visit was to the National Museum of the American Indian where we were exposed the most breathtaking exhibit ever. The Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight exhibit was absolutely the most incredible multisensory experience I’ve yet to witness. I hope this exhibit comes to Charlotte.

We also visited the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and the Oklahoma Black Museum and Performing Arts Center. We tried the American Banjo Museum but couldn’t stomach it. However, the Oklahoma State Capitol building was amazing, with an incredible display of art and history.

Our greatest adventure was a day trip to Tulsa to absorb the details of the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 at the Greenwood Rising Black Wall Street History Center. This experience was beyond powerful as we immersed ourselves in accounts from survivors and memories from descendants of one of the most brutal attacks in modern U.S. history that killed hundreds of innocent Black residents and destroyed well over 1,000 homes. Businesses completely obliterated — compensational and generational wealth blotted out.

Overall, this was a trip worth taking, although I’ll just give it a 4.5 rating. At least I know for sure it’s not a city I’d like to reside in, even though the cost of living is much cheaper than in Charlotte. The lack of walkability and the absence vibrant African American presence is depressing.


Click "HERE" to view more OKC photos

Charlotte African Art Gallery Offers Authentic Experiences

By Kurtavia Burton

Highlighting a culture — authentically

One of the first of its kind, the gallery showcases an exquisite collection of paintings, sculptures, and jewelry from more than 10 countries. The passion, precision and craftsmanship is evident as you enter the gallery. From the mezzanine floor aesthetic to curated wall space, Real African Art exhibits pieces that exude a sense of heritage, resilience and family.

With exposure and each piece of art purchased from the gallery, lives are being changed locally for the buyer and internationally for the artist. The real payoff is the rewarding moments of visibility for the artists and helping artists provide for their families and community back home in Zimbabwe and various countries, Ganda said.

"I am very proud of this gallery, which provides rewarding moments again and again,” said Ganda. “The goal is to encourage the artists, showcase culture and heritage through art, positively impact the community, and exhilarate our visitors through authentic art and representing Africa with a genuine experience,” he added.

Truly real African Art

Like other art galleries and museums, Real African Art seeks to showcase vibrant pieces handcrafted by masters of their craft. The significance of art and culture is carved and painted into each collection. Only real African art — brilliant blends of traditional and contemporary works — is for sale in the art gallery.

The stone sculptures from Zimbabwe makeup the gallery's core, with soapstone being the parent stone. Paintings and other artifacts are from Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and South Africa, to name a few. Most of the art featured in the gallery come from artists who are Mr. Ganda’s close friends and associates who he has known for quite some time, he said. Various themes and cultures are featured among the art pieces featured in the gallery.

Real African Art Gallery offers an authentic African experience and atmosphere of finely crafted, awe-inspiring pieces. The art gallery celebrates culture and heritage and elevates African artists to encourage hope, friendship and collaboration, said Ganda.

Fruitful collaborations

Real African Art is open for business, seeking local collaborations, fostering connections, and providing awareness of African culture. Through partnerships and alliances, the gallery's impact increases, business expands and artists grow and prosper, Ganda said. Recently, the art gallery partnered with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to teach students the business of owning an art gallery. With this training and exposure, students got an inside look at creativity and business.

Visit realafricanart.com to learn more.


Everything Art in Charlotte - We're back with even MORE news about the Charlotte performing arts scene. What can we say—there's so much to do and see in the Queen City this fall!

🎶 Children's Theatre of Charlotte is hosting "Tired Souls—The Montgomery Bus Boycott" on October 7 & 8 and "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" from November 4-19

🎶 The Harvey B. Gantt Center is featuring "Where the Sun Shines" until October 29🎶 The Mint Museum presents Walter Scott Lenox and American Belleek from now through January 21, 2024For information on how to get tickets to these great events, take a look at our piece on all things Charlotte arts this fall: https://issuu.com/watchdog-ent./docs/pm_0923_hr/48



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