Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sad and pathetic

I was on OKC Talk where I was corrected in suggesting that the main boulevard be named after Ralph Ellison, which I still think is in order. But I was not aware that there was already an Ellison Avenue! This caught me by surprise. I'd heard of the streets that surround it before..Douglas, Klein, and then Western, but the Ellison Avenue that already exists was new to me.

Ralph Ellison was a great man, probably Oklahoma's best author, who wrote the most famous work of literature to come out of Oklahoma (and no, it wasn't called the Grapes of Wrath). The man has gone down in history as one of the greatest American authors, and he was an important African American of that period. In my opinion he was more pivotal to OKC's anti-discrimination movement than even Clara Luper, a local legend who is known for her fight for equality, and has statues, NE 23rd, and more named after her memory. Ralph Ellison however has nothing besides this crappy street, and I believe there is also a branch library named for him. Look at it..would you want that street named after you?? How can we treat the legacy of a famous Oklahoman like this! On OKC Talk (no surprise) one poster did not even know who Ralph Ellison was. Unbelievable, and yet, 11th graders across the nation read Invisible Man..maybe everywhere except OKC, apparently.


CGHill said...

Considering how badly we do at comprehending The Grapes of Wrath, it should be no surprise that we have problems with Invisible Man.

fortysixthstarpress said...

While I don't disagree that Ralph Ellison Boulevard would be a great name for the C2S Boulevard, I'm compelled to offer that Ellison Avenue in OKC originally ran from NW 10th to NW 16th only and was platted as part of Summers Place Addition in 1892 - 12 or so years before Ralph Ellison was born. The original Ellison actually has some nice old houses on it (large family-sized ones).

As to who it was really named for, it will take some digging. A lot of streets even today are named for family members and friends or the farmer who sold the land and don't make sense to the rest of us.

Incidentally *shameless plug alert* our book Sooner Cinema, which CGHill so ably reviewed, has an essay by Arch Longwill on the very subject of his comment.

Good stuff so far on your blog, I'll be keeping an eye on it (or at least a feed).

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

Thanks for your info, 46thstar. It's really surprising to me that the area west of Western Avenue was platted in 1892. I should stuck to my druthers and leave anything beyond the name Ellison in C2S to the experts like you. I'll admit my familiarity with the area around Classen SAS is thrown off a little by the fact that I used to go to St. James Catholic Church at SW 42nd and McKinley, which apparently takes the place of Ellison on the south side. McKinley exists on the north side as well, but Ellison does not exist on the south side.