Return to the Swamp—Go Gators

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Decided to take a long overdue Walk into the Future pilgrimage back to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium AKA The Swamp to watch the Florida Gators play the University of South Florida (USF) Bulls.

My favorite person, Jayla Williams reminded me in September that we have not been to a Gator game in a few years.  The Gators struggled on the field from 2016 – 2018 due to horrible coaching and bad recruiting.  We started to turn it around with a new coach but then COVID-19 made going to football a public health issue, so we stayed away.

I caught the Gators play in Tallahassee against FSU a couple times during the bad years since I lived and worked there.  Jayla and I had been on hiatus from The Swamp and this game was a great opportunity to spend time in a favorite location for us.

We picked the USF game because it was supposed to be an easy victory for the Gators.  Someone forgot to tell the USF players to lay down and take their butt whipping.

The Gators won but it felt like a defeat to most of the fans in attendance.  FYI—Gator fans can be a prickly bunch (me included) so the world was not ending but anything other than a perfect game by the beloved Gators gets under people’s skin.

I was able to get our tickets off Stub Hub for a good price.  We sat in Section 20, Row 21 which put us in the south endzone with a great view of the field and close to the Gator’s bench.  It was exciting to be back in the Swamp and experience a game day with Jayla again.  I’m sure we have a few more of these moments in our future and hope for a much better game from the Gators.

Here are a few pictures from our Swamp adventure:

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Irie!

Run to Stop Hunger 5k

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy”.

(Mark Will-Weber)

My Walk into the Future allows me to mix and match my adventures depending on what I am trying to get accomplished.

I always love the running tourist part of my journey since I get to explore and stay in shape by training.  My big running goal for 2022 is to run and complete my first full marathon in December.  My training program is going well as I am averaging 30+ weekly miles to prepare for the task of running 26.2 miles in Palm Beach.  The 18-week training program allows me some flexibility but a standard in the program is the long run concept each weekend.  The miles increase incrementally each week and I have been dedicated to ensuring I get up on Saturdays to do my part to ensure I am ready for the full marathon.

Decided to sign-up for local 5ks to improve my speed and warm up prior to going out for my long runs.  The 5k (3.1 miles) distance provides a great opportunity to get out and test my fitness levels, gauge my speed, and have fun. 

Signed up for the Run to Stop Hunger 5k in Fort Pierce in September.  This was a hometown race, so the running tourist did not get a chance to explore new locales, but I did get to see Fort Pierce in a different context. 

The race start and finish line was located within Causeway Cove which sits directly on the Indian River in Fort Pierce.  I run by this location weekly but never ventured onto the site to explore everything that is located there.  I see the signs for jet ski rentals when running and always think about going in to rent a jet ski but have not made that happen to date.  Interesting spot with a lot of different activities hosted there:  RV park, drive-in movies on Saturday nights, concerts, food festivals, etc.

Needed to complete 14 total miles so decided to park closer to downtown Fort Pierce and run across the Seaway Drive bridge as a warmup before the 5k.  My goal was to get a 1-mile prerace run in to loosen my legs and give me a springboard to get up to speed during the 5k.  Made my way across the Seaway Drive bridge at a comfortable pace and arrived in Causeway Cove warmed up and ready to go.

I did not set a time goal for this 5k but wanted to go out faster than I did for the Celebration of Running 5k back in August.  We did not have as many runners for this race so there was not as much traffic to navigate on the course.  The course was completely flat, and we did not have to cross traffic at all.

It was an out and back race format with the turnaround at the 1.5-mile marker.  It was cool getting a chance to see the leaders heading back towards the finish line—got a chance to gauge how close or far I was from the race leader. 😊

My first mile was run in 8:40 and I felt comfortable with this pace.  Smiled when I looked at my watch and saw my first mile was well under a 9-minute pace.  The Florida humidity was thick as always, but this did not keep me from maintaining this pace throughout the race—my goal was to get some speed work in so no need to back off at this point.

I locked in on a couple runners to help pace me the rest of the way after crossing the race midpoint.  I felt the humidity a bit more in the second part of the race but had my music cranking (TI’s Motivation, again) and kept running hard.

Crossed the finish line at 26:43 for a pace of 8:35. This was my fastest 5k since March 2020 so extremely happy with the results.  This time allowed me to finish second in my age group and collect a medal and age group award.  Got a chance to talk with some local runners while waiting for the awards ceremony—we are a friendly bunch of people.

Still needed to get in additional miles so left Causeway Cove and ran back over the Seaway Drive bridge to my vehicle.  Got my additional 9 miles completed on Ocean Drive for a total of 14 for the day. 

Happy with my results and how my legs feel during this preparation phase of training.  Will leverage speed work more as I get closer to my marathon date.

Happy running folks!

Irie!

“As we run, we become”.

(Amby Burfoot)

Melbourne Beach (9/11/2022)

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“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink wild air”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Took my Walk into the Future on another road trip to my favorite beach location, the Crowne Plaza in Melbourne, Florida.  Yes, I make a point to visit this beach location multiple times throughout the year but there was added emphasis for this trip. 

September 11th continues to be a day remembered in America due to the events that happened on 9/11/2001.  I will not document the things from that day, but it provides an opportunity for remembrance in this country.

I was stationed at Kadena Air Base, on the island of Okinawa on 9/11/2001.  I viewed the second plane hit the World Trade Center tower live on TV while on the phone with my mom.  At the time we thought the first was an accident but fully understood the impact once the second plane crashed.

I was on the phone with my mom halfway around the world because September 11th is my birthday.  She called to wish me a happy birthday and we witnessed the world change at the same time.

Fast forward to 2022 and I ventured up to Melbourne to celebrate my birthday in a favorite spot and get a beach day in at the same time.

Started my adventure by heading to Costco to do some bulk shopping and get a few samples.  I love a good deal and always find things I need there.  I stock up on vitamins, Bio Freeze and Salonpas patches which really come in handy with my marathon training program.  Need these things to help with my recovery and get me back out running.

Next stop was the Patrick Space Force Base Exchange for some tax-free shopping.  Decided it was time to invest in another pair of Brooks GTS Adrenaline 22 running shoes.  I’m routinely clocking 90+ monthly miles now so like to have another pair of running shoes to rotate into my training program.  These shoes come at a reduced price on the base and there is no tax for the purchase. 😊

Left the base and headed to one of my favorite spots, Squid Lips for lunch.  It is a laid-back spot overlooking the Indian River with great food and daily live music.  Great spot for seafood, cold beer, music, and people watching:   

Made my way over to the Crowne Plaza next to relax on the beach and listen to the live band.  Turns out Sunday is the day for reggae so this put a huge smile on my face since I love reggae.  The band and DJ were good and put out an authentic Irie vibe.  The folks under the tiki hut were vibing and enjoying the sounds.

A highlight of the day was the Sky Dive Melbourne Beach 9/11 tribute event:  http://skydivemelbournebeach.com/?fbclid=IwAR06kj3ItJyenYYDitGXbM8zD-f-NxNUjNF7oiJMWUMs6-ae74B0Ri3OGdE

It was exciting to see the sky divers make their way down towards the beach.  Had to relocate my beach towel to get out of their landing zone. 😊 It was an impressive display and the crowds on the beach enjoyed cheering the sky divers once they all were down safely.

Finished my beach day off with wings, fries, and beer under the tiki hut with reggae coming from the band.  Sounds like a perfect day, huh? 😊

Great way to spend a birthday!

Irie!

Where will you spend your next birthday?

“To escape and sit quietly at the beach—that’s my idea of paradise”.

(Emilia Wickstead)

Navy SEAL Museum

Navy SEAL1

“We learn a lot and each museum ends up having its own distinctive character and personality”.

(Richard Meier)

I was honored when I was invited to join the IRSC Student Veteran Organization (SVO) leadership board as they toured the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.  I have driven by the museum, but this was my first time to enter the building and get a chance to review the history of the Navy SEALs.  This trip has been the highlight of 2022 for my Walk into The Future.

It is great to have the Navy SEAL Museum locally in Fort Pierce and my visit will allow me to share with others. 

My first experience with the Navy SEALs was a 2017 visit out to San Diego for an Educator’s Tour while I was still at Florida State University.  Select educators from around the country are invited out by the Navy to tour and see SEAL facilities to help with recruitment efforts.  I have been on multiple Educators tours:  Marine Corps (Quantico, VA.), Army (Fort Jackson, SC).  The services like to bring educators in to show them what true military services looks like and answer questions to enhance recruiting efforts at universities and colleges.

My time in San Diego was to learn about the SEALs training efforts so I would be able to help students understand how their education would translate to the Navy and/or the SEALs.  The training is recognized as a mental and physical challenge, this is why the SEALs are such a respected and elite group—they are truly the best of the best!

Fast forward to 2022 and my trip to the museum.  We were able to walk the halls and view historical artifacts from SEAL missions around the world.  The history of the SEALs is displayed throughout with emphasis on the tools used for success around the world.  The central theme for me was the bravery of the SEALs and how they carried out missions with professionalism and precision.

I learned quite a bit during this trip and look forward to coming back with friends and family so they can see/experience this great history on display.

https://www.navysealmuseum.org/

Indian River Lagoon and Swampland Boat tour

Boat tour

“If your ship does not come in, swim out to meet it”.

(Jonathan Winters)

I always look for a clever quote to get me started with the writing process.  There are not a lot of funny boating quotes or much to pick from, so I decided to go with reliable Jonathan Winters to get me moving.

My Walk into The Future allows me to chronicle adventures and outings I get to enjoy.  I get out and do these things then have to go back and drop a few lines to make sure I capture the moments to share with my readers.

My latest adventure was an excursion with the good folks at the Indian River Lagoon and Swampland Boat tour.  This outfit is conveniently located in downtown Fort Pierce, so I did not have far to drive to get this party started.

I have walked past the ticket office multiple times but never made the time to stop and purchase a ticket for the boat tour.  This all changed the week I came back from Jamaica.  I still had a few days left on my vacation so wanted to keep exploring even when I got back to Fort Pierce.

Joined about 10 folks who were waiting to get on the boat on a sunny afternoon.  Luckily for us the boat is covered because the Florida sun was a bit warm on the day we went out.  It is always muggy here so not sitting in direct sunlight for 2 hours was a welcomed aspect of the boat tour.

The boat captain tried to entertain us throughout the tour by identifying points of interest and places where he has seen dolphins and manatees.  He did everything he could to keep us entertained but we did not see much in the water.  There was one manatee in the water feeding so we circled it a bit so folks could get some good pictures.

The rest of the trip was a nice boat ride up and down the Indian River where we got a chance to see other boaters, kayakers, and lots of folks fishing.  The water was calm and peaceful, so this part of the boat tour was great.  

Discovered a few kayak rental outfits directly on the river.  The boat tour provided a different vantage point for these outfitters so now I know who they are and how to get to them.  I caught the kayak bug while living in Tallahassee but did not have a go to place in Fort Pierce to rent a kayak and explore.  I plan to get back down to the river and leverage my newfound knowledge so I can bring a new adventure to the Walk into the Future blog.  Be on the lookout for my new kayak adventures. 😊

Irie!

“Only the guy who is not rowing has time to rock the boat”.

(Jean-Paul Sartre)

Boat Tour2

Marathon training – Week 5

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“Of all the races, there is not better stage for heroism than a marathon”.

(George Sheehan)

The Walk into the Future blog is based on exploring opportunities, adventures and then sharing them with my readers.

I have tapped danced around the concept to run a full marathon for a few years now.  Well, no more tap dancing, I am fully engaged in the marathon training process and just completed Week 5 of an 18-week training program.

My targeted race is the 2022 Palm Beaches Garden of Life Marathon in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Wanted to pick a race that was close to home and with a flat course—check and check.  I have friends who have run this marathon and they say it provides the perfect course, backdrop, and time of the year to tackle the 26.2 miles.  Excited and terrified at the same time but my training program will get me to the start line and beyond. 😊

I selected the 18-week training program to allow myself time to prepare for this major life event mentally and physically.  There are multiple training plans available (12-weeks, 16-weeks, etc.) but I went for the longer plan to ensure I had time to train with a buffer.

This training plan starts out with lower mileage than most people would think of considering this is preparation for a marathon.  The following are the total weekly miles in the plan:

  • Week #1: 19 miles
  • Week #2:  20 miles
  • Week #3:  17 miles
  • Week #4:  23 miles
  • Week #5:  24 miles

Again, the training plan is building up base mileage, but I exceeded the prescribed miles each week so far since I have been training for half-marathons throughout 2022.  I did not go over the prescribed miles by much but wanted to ensure I put in the work to lead to a successful and enjoyable marathon in December.

My plan calls for incremental mileage increases as I prepare my mind and body for the challenge of completing a 26.2-mile race in December.  I complete my long runs on Saturdays with my longest run of 20-miles coming in Week #15.  I complete my long runs in Fort Pierce on Hutchinson Island where I do not have an issue of crossing traffic.  It’s the same route I run to prepare for my half marathons, but I am discovering unique points of interests on the route as I run out further due to my increased mileage.  My long runs are completed at a slower pace to ensure I can start and finish—this is recommended for all long runs.

I just invested in a running hydration vest so I can carry water with me as I extend my runs.  Hydration is vitally important considering I am running in the August heat and humidity in Florida. 

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(Hydration vest)

Looking forward to seeing how the hydration vest enhances my training as I continue to prep for the 2022 Palm Beaches Garden of Life Marathon.

FYI—the next update will come in Week #10 of the training program.

Irie

“When you run a marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time”.

(Haile Gebrselassie)

Poetic Flow / Drive

cars ahead on road
Photo by Taras Makarenko on Pexels.com

Drive

Keep moving ahead

The dreams you dream are all in front of you

The actions you take

The dedication you display

The time you take

To chart the course

All come down to the drive you have

To seek your dreams and then to fulfill those dreams

Drive your success by allowing your dreams to come true

2022 Running Season

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“Running teaches us that we are capable of so much more than we ever imagined”.

(Patti Sue Plumer)

The 2022 running season started for me with the 2022 Track Shack Celebration of Running 5k in August.  I have run this event multiple times and view it as a great way to launch my running season and test my fitness levels prior to the half marathon schedule.  An added angle for me this year is this event allows me to combine the 5k miles within my long run for the weekend.

I officially started my training program two weeks ago to prepare for my first full marathon on 12/11/2022.  My program calls for a long run on Saturdays so used these 5k miles as a warmup and then got down to the longer portion of my run while I was in the Orlando area.

Traveled to Orlando on Friday after work this year with designs to pick up my race bib and t-shirt prior to the race on Saturday morning.  I had enough Marriott Bonvoy points for a free night so took advantage of this and stayed at my favorite Marriott property in Oviedo, Florida.  There were locations a bit closer to the race sight, but I planned to leverage the trails in Oviedo so decided to just stay there and drive a bit for race day.

August in Florida is hot and humid, but the weather was a bit cooler this year.  I was not ready for the humidity in 2021 but my new training focus has me running several days per week and acclimating to the heat a lot better than last year.

Made my way to the Orlando Science Center on race day to get my bib and allow time to warmup before the race.   There were a lot more runners this year as people are starting to come back and enjoy the running communities again.  I got a chance to catch up with a few runners I have known for years and made sure my legs were ready to move me around the course.  I completed several rounds of stretches, lunges, and hip swings to bring everything into alignment to avoid injuries while running.

Track Shack allows runners to self-identify their projected pace at the start line, so this makes the start of races interesting to say the least.  I say interesting because you will have people who plan to walk the 5k at the very front and this creates traffic faster runners must maneuver through.  It also causes folks to bump into each other, but no one got hurt this year, but it is a weird dynamic.  I always line up in the 8 minute per mile group with the intention of using that pace as a guide for my race plans—sometimes it works. 😊

My marathon training so far has focused on building up my base miles, so I have not done much speed work.  I race at a faster pace than I train so know I can speed up on race day—it’s just a matter of determining how fast I can go based on how my body feels and the conditions.

Decided not to focus on a specific time but to run as fast and safely as possible.  Wanted to enjoy the course, the process and just being back around the Orlando running community.  There were several folks I followed as pacers and this race was a lot of fun for me this year.

My time was 29:35 which is a 9:31 per minute pace—not superfast or slow, just steady for me.

  • Mile 1 = 9:17
  • Mile 2 = 9:45
  • Mile 3 = 9:37
  • Mile .1 = :58

I was able to finish the final portion of the race with a sprint to the finish line and felt good—I had another gear but did not fully engage for the race.  I collected my medal, got water, fruit and my complimentary beer—yes, we drink beer at 8 am.  I got a few pictures in the race village to document the day and prepared for the next phase of my training program.

I left the Orlando Science Center and drove over to Oviedo to take advantage of the Cross Seminole Trail again. 

The trail provided a great and shaded place to complete the next 6 miles of my weekend training plan.  I parked in downtown Oviedo and walked over to the trail to begin the journey towards 9 total miles for the day.

The Cross Seminole Trail is professionally maintained and is used by walkers, runners, bicyclist, and skaters.  The people I encountered all had smiles on their faces and greeted me.  It was great being back on a trail with folks again.  My runs in Fort Pierce are done mostly on sidewalks and there is not a lot of folks to interact with—not complaining just stating facts.

My goal on the Cross Seminole Trail was to run out for 3 miles, regroup and then come back for a total of 6 miles on the trail.  Mission complete.  Most of the trail run was uneventful but at one point there was a truck parked in the street blocking a portion of the trail.  I did not understand why the truck was there but quickly discovered the driver’s pit-bull got out of the truck somehow and was roaming the trail.  The driver was trying to get his dog back into the vehicle, but the dog was not ready to go yet.  This caused a bit of a scare to folks on the trail, but the dog was just excited and happy to be out and about.  It started to run with me on the trail, so I stopped and turned around to lead it back to the owner.  Never imagined my long run would include me directing a dog back to an owner—fun day! 😊

Completed my run with no problems and made my way back to my vehicle so I could get out of my sweaty clothing.  Made my way back to the hotel and then got lunch at Bahama Breeze which is one of my favorite places to eat.  Got some quick shopping in at Dick’s Sporting Goods and then got on the road to head back to Fort Pierce.

This was a quick trip over to Orlando for the 5k but eventful.  I will leverage my 5k efforts into my training program to continue to get faster and mentally ready for my full marathon in December.

Irie!

https://www.osc.org/

https://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/departments-services/leisure-services/greenways-natural-lands/trails/cross-seminole-trail.stml#

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”.

(Eric Thomas)

Hard Ax Lounge

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“Everything goes great with some axe throwing”.

(Instagram)

The Walk into the Future blog allows me to capture my thoughts, adventures and, plans in a way that I can share with my readers.

Never sought out a venue to capture everything but this blog provides an opportunity to highlight things I do to continue to Walk into the Future.

My new adventure was a trip to the Hard Ax Lounge in Fort Pierce for a round of ax throwing.  This was my second time in the Hard Ax Lounge—several of us from work made it to the lounge in December for a teambuilding activity.  It was the same day as our ugly sweater party, and I never got around to capturing my thoughts on the original outing.

Turns out I picked up ax throwing fast as I was the ax throwing champion for our group back in December.  Never imagined I would be good at throwing an ax but maybe my small-town upbringing in Jasper, Florida translated to becoming an ax man. 😊

Made my way back for round two with a smaller group of friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  I did not have preconceived ideas that my first ax throwing adventure would translate to this session.  Everyone must go through the safety training—ax throwing can be dangerous, and it helped to get pointers from the ax experts that work there.

There are different ax sizes, and each ax performs a bit different from the next.  The instructors show all participants how to hold and throw the axes based on size and weight.  They offer everyone an opportunity to throw each ax to get a better feel for which ax works best.  I had a lot of success with the smallest ax during my first experience so decided to stick with what worked best for me in the past.

The first part of the throwing session is just getting familiar with throwing the ax and working on form and aim.  The concept is like throwing darts, but the ax does a lot more damage when it hits the target.  We went through several rounds of practice before the ax experts introduced the ax throwing competition into the session.

The ax board is numbered, and scores are based on the number your ax sticks to (8, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).  The first game introduced was a game of 21.  You throw with the idea of hitting numbers that add up to 21 to be crowned the winner.  If your throw total goes OVER 21 then you go back down to 12 and throw again with the intent to end up on 21.  Pretty simple, huh?

Throws are rotated between everyone on your lane, so everyone gets a turn in the rotation towards 21. 

My throwing technique is very basic.  I grab the small ax, position myself on the lane and then let it fly—not rocket science but I try not to overthink this simple process.

Fast forward and my throws got me close to 21 multiple times, but I had to go back to 12 since I kept going over.  Luckily for me, others throwing on my lane could not take advantage of me having to go back to 12 and win the game.  We played three rounds, and I was able to win 2 out of 3 rounds and leave as the ax throwing champion for the day.  FYI—double champion!

Ax throwing is a fast-growing sport, and it continues to get bigger in the Fort Pierce area.  I’m sure this is not the last ax win for the Walk into the Future blog.

Have you ever competed in ax throwing?

“Throw your axe and have some fun”.

(Instagram)

Black Wall Street–100 years later (Repost)

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Hostility Sculpture in Tulsa, Oklahoma

(Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

(Dr. Martin Luther King)

My first introduction to Black Wall Street came when I served as a panelist for a Florida State University (FSU) Black Student Union (BSU) program.  The students invited me to enhance their professional development program, but I got a history lesson I did not expect or know I needed.

I love working with college students because they bring a passion for subjects they are interested in and that passion keeps them curious and intent on growing daily. My role on the panel was to help BSU students understand how to present themselves when networking for future career opportunities.  We got that process going and had a good question and answer session with lots of input from the students in attendance.

One of the students present asked the moderator why the activities for the week was labeled Black Wall Street?  The response is where my education on the subject began.

The BSU leaders saw Black History Month as the perfect time to educate its members and guests on important periods, i.e., The Harlem Renaissance, Black Wall Street, Black Excellence and Black Power.  I was familiar with each of the periods identified for the month except Black Wall Street.  I assumed this was BSU’s way to show members how to build financial freedom and eventually make their way to Wall Street (NYC).  I was wrong and totally missed the boat on the meaning of Black Wall Street.

The BSU leadership wanted to show members how financial freedom could be gained by following the blueprint laid out by the founders of the true Black Wall Street in Greenwood, Oklahoma (Tulsa).  I had never heard of Black Wall Street, Greenwood, Oklahoma or the massacre that happened there in the early 1920’s.  My students were more than happy to fill me in on another history lesson I never received during my formal education programs—this seems to be a common theme with American history.

The concept a black town in Oklahoma was self-sufficient in the 1920’s seemed unreal at first but decided to learn more after talking with students.  I consider myself a lifelong learner and this was another educational journey I needed to fully see the great things that happened on Black Wall Street prior to the massacre.

O.W. Gurley was a prominent figure who relocated to the Greenwood district and purchased land which then could only be sold to people of color.  This was Gurley’s vision to establish a place for the black population.  Most of his businesses were frequented by black migrants fleeing the oppression of the Mississippi delta.  Gurley worked with others to pool their financial resources and support the thriving businesses being developed in Greenwood.  The residents of Black Wall Street were doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. The success of the black residents of Greenwood played a role in the 1921 massacre because of the jealousy of their white neighbors in nearby Tulsa.

My Black Wall Street education increased my knowledge of this important period of Black History and led me to dig deeper on the actual massacre.  The news program, 60 Minutes did a report on Black Wall Street and the massacre a few years ago.  This led to additional investigations and a team has been formed to find and excavate hidden graves to bring closure for descendants of the massacre victims.  This painful piece of American history continues to garner interest and my hope is we never experience something like this again.

Learn more about what happened in Greenwood here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/antoinegara/2020/06/18/the-bezos-of-black-wall-street-tulsa-race-riots-1921/#65183f08f321

60 Minutes program on Greenwood, Oklahoma:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA8t8PW-OkA

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own”.

(Michelle Obama)

Note:  This was a repost.  My mentor thought it was timely to put this in front of readers again.  It has been 100 years and this injustice is finally getting national attention.

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