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Deep Deuce was the entertainment district, possessing some of the foremost jazz and blues

clubs in this region of the country. Nearly any night of the week folks could experience

performances by Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie and from

their pride and joy, native sons, the great jazz guitarist Charlie Christian, and Jimmy Rushing



Books by Peggy Brooks-Bertram

Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire  / Go, Tell Michelle

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Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond

By Anita G. Arnold , Foreword by Charles Burton Jr.

Review by Peggy Brooks-Bertram


The old adage that great things come in small packages is certainly true with Anita Arnold’s recent book, Oklahoma City Music, Deep Deuce and Beyond. It is with great pleasure that I write a review of this outstanding photo documentation of the music history of Deep Deuce Oklahoma by one of Oklahoma’s Uncrowned Queens, Anita Golden Arnold. 

My own interest in Oklahoma began two decades ago with the search of one of Oklahoma’s earliest and most prominent African American families, the Dunjees, specifically concert pianist, educator, newspaper woman and community activist Drusilla Dunjee Houston.  My interest in Drusilla grew to include her father, Rev. John William Dunjee and her brother Roscoe Dunjee, editor of the Black Dispatch.  I was thrilled to see Anita Arnold include Roscoe Dunjee in this work and recognize him as the “voice of the Deep Deuce” and premier archivist of Deep Deuce musical history. 

Before going further, I apologize for the length of this review in advance because I couldn’t resist adding to Anita’s recognition of Roscoe Dunjee by sharing some of Roscoe’s earliest recollections of African American music and dance in the Deep Deuce.  In a review of his writings, Roscoe recounted music and dance life in 1890s Oklahoma shortly after his family arrived.  In describing “early day society” Roscoe cited the Valentino Club as a place of black music where bands practiced on Seventh Street. 

He described early dancers like “Frank Rogan, who was the most famous cake walker of the period.  The cake walk was a sort of prancing movement executed in fox trot time.”  Roscoe wrote that “when young folk wanted just a small affair, they called on Frank Fields, a fiddler, and W.T. Tucker a banjo artist, who was also the Undertaker.  For big occasions, young folks sent for the Dunjee Orchestra.  There was Fiddler Dunjee and Preacher Dunjee.” Preacher Dunjee was John William Dunjee, Roscoe’s father.

In a few words but many photographs, Arnold tells the story of the music history of Oklahoma’s Deep Deuce.  Arnold paints a brilliant description of persons such as “Preacher Smith, who had perfect pitch and could only play in one key; of a life carried on despite bitter segregation and denial of fundamental rights of Black people.” The photographs in this book are most revealing and I was moved seeing photos of personages I had interviewed for my own work including Freddie Williams one of many “who danced the planks off the floor at Slaughter’s Hall, ”and Leona Mitchell, Metropolitan Opera Star and Uncrowned Queen. 

The book is a researcher’s heaven because it provides a number of avenues for research in the Deep Deuce tradition because the subject matter begs for further exploration by Masters and Doctoral students. Such areas include the history of newspaper men who told the stories of the Deep Deuce musical giants;  musical families including the Dunjees;  exciting “nick names” like Little Dog, Monk, Spooks, 5X5, and tracing Deep Deuce musicians in magazine history. And with the great Charlie Christian, researchers should be attracted by Christian’s popularization of the Gibson ES-250, 250, L7 guitars and defining the electric guitar.”

Arnold’s depth and breadth of understanding of the music subject matter and its cultural roots in Oklahoma City is truly refreshing whether talking about “blues shouting,” jump blues, popular music, gospel, swing, jazz, blues, Be Bop or single string solos.  As well, the historical photographic tour of the musical “hotspots” of the Deep Deuce has to bring back memories to those who both witnessed and participated in this musical tradition.

Arnold’s easy style of presentation and easy transition from one musical period to the other buttressed by face-to-face interview, primary source data, original photos, research of numerous historical data bases and plumbing the records of community historians,  reflects a complete love of the Deep Deuce, its history and culture and contributes enormously to the value to this important work.

Unlike “Doughbelly” waiting for the Deep Deuce to rise again, readers can be assured that the rich legacy of the Deep Deuce has risen and continues to rise thanks to Arnold’s love, passion, and fortitude to produce this legacy of music of all of Oklahoma’s Deep Deuce musicians, especially the incomparable Charlie Christian. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to review this wonderful work.

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Peggy Brooks-Bertram is the Co-Founder of Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, Inc., author/editor of four volumes of Uncrowned Queens: African American Women Community Builders, Vols. 1-4 including Uncrowned Queens: African American Women Community Builders of Oklahoma, 1907-2007; Editor of Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, Vol. 2, Origin of Civilization from the Cushites by Drusilla Dunjee Houston; and co-editor of Go, Tell Michelle, African American Women Write to the New First Lady which was the recipient of the Association of Black Women Historians, 2009 Letitia M. Brown Award for Best Book of 2009.

She is currently writing the biography of Drusilla Dunjee Houston. June 2010

posted 8 July 2010 

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Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond

Anita Arnold had already written a couple of books about legendary jazz guitarist Charlie Christian and the Oklahoma City jazz scene in the Deep Deuce neighborhood as fundraisers for Oklahoma City’s International Music Festival. She had already done research for Oklahoma author William Welge, whose thankful publisher then gave her copies of Welge’s book for an additional fundraiser.

When those sold out, Arnold politely declined Arcadia Publishing’s offer to provide additional books for fundraising. But some time later, an Arcadia representative called her again, offering copies of a new Arcadia title.

“They told me it was about Springlake Park,” Arnold said, noting that the sales rep was unaware that Springlake Amusement Park had for years been a painful point of contention for many black city residents, who were excluded from the park as a result of lingering segregationist attitudes of its owners.

“I absolutely lost it and said, ‘No, absolutely not!’ and the guy was shocked and said, ‘Well, I thought that was historical,’” Arnold said. “I said, ‘It is, but the people I know do not want to conjure up any negative memories, and that was negative.’ “They were stunned that I blurted out how I felt, and then I said, ‘I need to write a history book.’”  photo (left) Anita G. Arnold

Much to her surprise, the sales rep told her that an editor would call to discuss just that. “I was stunned. I thought they were talking because I was ranting,” she said. “So I thought that . . . the least I could do is look at the proposal.”

Arnold was reluctant to get caught up in writing another book, and she dragged her feet returning the proposal, hoping Arcadia would lose interest.

“I finally filled out and sent their proposal back, and they got excited, and I thought, ‘I was supposed to be getting rid of them,’” she said with a laugh. “Each time I sent them something, it went from ‘good possibilities’ to ‘this is really pretty good’ to ‘this is good’ to ‘this is excellent.’”

Arcadia, which specializes in publishing photo-heavy local histories, informed Arnold that 180 to 240 images would be needed.

Having already tapped many local resources for illustrations for her previous books, Arnold asked friends and acquaintances to search scrapbooks, attics and basements for previously unpublished images. To her relief, many were uncovered.

“I went from one person, and they referred me to someone else, and on and on. I got several pictures from the Oklahoma History Center,” she said. “This is new stuff — these are pictures a lot of people haven’t seen before.”

Titled Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond, Arnold’s book traces 60 years of local music history, moving from the early days of jazz to the present day, including a full chapter about Christian, who went from Deep Deuce clubs to playing with jazz legends Count Basie and Benny Goodman before his tragic death at age 25 in 1942.

In conjunction with the 25th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival, running through Sunday, Arnold will sign copies Saturday at the Oklahoma History Center. —C.G. Niebank, Arcadia Publishing

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Second Street

By Anita G. Arnold

The African American business and cultural district in Oklahoma City dates to around the turn of the twentieth century. By the 1920s the three hundred block of Northeast Second Street had become known as "Deep Deuce," "Deep Two," and "Deep Second." By day it served as a business district with barbershops, doctors' offices, beauty shops, clothiers, restaurants, a newspaper office, a cab company, lawyers' offices, a drugstore, a movie theater, a hardware store, and many other businesses, depending on the decade.

At night Deep Deuce turned into a cultural center for African Americans, with nightclubs, supper clubs, and a legendary dance hall featuring outstanding local talent, many of whom gained national acclaim, such as Jimmy Rushing and Charlie Christian. The Blue Devils, a famous territorial band, called Second Street home. The Pulitzer Prize-winner Ralph Ellison grew up in the district. Deep Deuce was famous for parades, street dances, breakfast dances, New Orleans-style funerals, and for a Thursday night tradition called "maids night out," a grand "street" fashion show involving the whole community as either spectators or participants.

The future of African Americans during the early 1900s rested in the activities, resources, and the sharp minds of business people on Second Street. Roscoe Dunjee, editor of the Black Dispatch, located at 324 Northeast Second Street, blazed a civil-rights path unparalleled by anyone in the state. With the power of the press, Dunjee broke down the barriers of segregation in housing, education, transportation, and public facilities. Considered by many to be one of the nation's foremost civil rights champions, Dunjee used his newspaper, the courts, the Oklahoma Legislature, and the federal government to win justice for African Americans in the state, as well as nationally.

Deep Deuce existed as the place where it all happened for African Americans in Oklahoma City until the late 1950s. Ironically, many have viewed racial justice and improved opportunity as the major reason for the demise of a thriving business district that had been born of injustice. Integration coupled with more choices in housing, consumer spending, and education sent Deep Deuce into a serious decline and a state of complete deterioration existed at end of the twentieth century.

As a new century dawned, however, Deep Deuce rekindled great interest, resulting in the area's redevelopment as a residential community adjacent to the entertainment district of Oklahoma City's "Bricktown." The name Deep Deuce has been trademarked, and an apartment complex built at the location in 2001 carries that title. The National Register of Historic Places lists three properties in the district: Calvary Baptist Church (NR 78002244), Littlepage Hotel Building (NR 95001500), and Melvin Luster House (NR 83002101). There are few other physical reminders of this legendary marker of a people, a place, and a culture.

Bibliography: Anita G. Arnold, Charlie and the Deuce (Oklahoma City: Self-Published, 1994). Anita G. Arnold, Legendary Times and Tales of Second Street (Oklahoma City: Black Liberated Arts Center, 1995). Bob Burke and Angela Monson, Roscoe Dunjee, Champion of Civil Rights (Edmond: University of Central Oklahoma Press, 1998). Vicki Miles-LaGrange and Bob Burke, A Passion for Equality: The Life of Jimmy Stewart (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1999).

Source: Digital Library Oklahoma

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Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond details the birth and growth of music in Oklahoma City’s African American community from the 1920s until the late 1990s. Musical influences of families and individuals, venues, dance, and fashion blend with new-era traditions such as parades, jam sessions, and street parties to create a culture that became well known. This book explores how the seeds of music so deeply planted in the early days continue to produce great musicians and how the influences of those icons will vibrate throughout future international generations.

Anita G. Arnold is a native of Tecumseh, Oklahoma. She has been the executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center, Inc. since 1991. She has written several cultural history books and is the recipient of the coveted Governor’s Arts Award and the Oklahoma City/County Pathmaker Award.

Source: Wimgo

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Deep DeuceThe black commercial district back in the day was Deep Deuce (originally called “Deep Second” as Second St. runs through it), where blacks flourished in part due to their drive to succeed and support each other, as well as because of segregationist laws at the time prohibiting blacks from crossing into certain areas of the city.

The accomplishments and every day happenings of the black community here have left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of the city, state and beyond. It was here that a black millionaire lived in what may have been the first house owned by an African American here. A woman named Zelia Page Breaux excelled as a musician and educator, serving as supervisor of music for Oklahoma City’s African American schools and as part owner of the Aldridge Theater that hosted student and traveling shows, among other successes. The Slaughter building housed several retail shops, business offices and Slaughter’s Hall, a popular dance venue.

Most of all, Deep Deuce was the entertainment district, possessing some of the foremost jazz and blues clubs in this region of the country. Nearly any night of the week folks could experience performances by Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie and from their pride and joy, native sons, the great jazz guitarist Charlie Christian, and Jimmy Rushing, referred to by some as the world's greatest blues and jazz singer, just to name a few.

This is just the beginning of all the black history found here.

Unfortunately, like many cities across the country, Deep Deuce suffered mightily at the onset of the Great Depression and during WWI and WWII. Consequently, the area spiraled into a steady decline that lasted for decades.

Today Deep Deuce is in the midst of an exciting revitalization effort, spurred by people from all walks of life who have restored old façades, opened new businesses, built upscale condos and so forth, resulting in a beautiful, increasingly popular Oklahoma City neighborhood that still exudes a great deal of its historic characterExaminer

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Deep Second

                By Ralph Ellison

Now when the plane-stirred winds drew down the enraptured


I fell upon the slow-awakened past of joy

Eagerly, eagerly, going forth to dawn-dance

Diving blithely as a boy

Plunging  arrogantly twenty years through ordered space,

And when to my older eyes the town appeared reduced

               dowdy as a worn-out doll

tossed into a corner of a newer city

There was only this to do; accept,

Accept the smack, smack! of Time upon my flanks and plunge me


Into that inner past to fit

The puzzle of now and then together;

The girl and woman, man and boy;

Blue kites against bluer sky and silver planes

Swimming beneath the surface of the air as we once swam

Fish-like beneath the Arbuckle Mountain streams.

And learn that streets loom larger in the mind than ever

Upon the arches of hills:

That kisses linger in the memory as indelibly as the pain

Or harsh words thrown through adolescent anger.

Fined too, the dream which went before the passion,

(That child father to the childish man) of him who dedicated me

And set me aside to puzzle always the past and wander  blind

                within the present,

Groping where others glide, stumbling where others stroll in


And now returning after all the years to crawl the paths most


Had forgotten. My second coming into deep second

Between two frontier hills, that world bounded by Walnut and


And then the enraptured dawn at last possessing

That which all the others would now have lost:

The path still vivid, the old walks layered beneath present ways;

The inner houses behind the present walls revealed;

The earlier birdsong sounding behind the now-dawn's  awakening


And all the past was shaken up, and all the old speech singing

In the wind, and their once clear skins and once bright eyes

Looking through to see me in my passions venture.

Recaptured, held, their promise still a promise and all their days


In my awakened eyes. And me a red cock flaming on the hill,

Dying of the fire of past and present, and yet exalting

That in me and only me live forever.

I who can give no life but of the word would give them all

Their past unsullied and their present gleaming with


Their fathers rich with humanity and their mothers beautiful

And lovely. And their thoughts true and their actions wise.

And from that past we knew,

Would make for their children a dew-fresh world.

Oh, I would them make of us all heroes and fliers,

Even now, though where once our blue kites dipped and sailed

I now plunge past in silvery planes

Even in the Now, where derricks rise and engines throb upon our

                  playing fields

And young girls laugh and glide with the room wherein my

                  father died

and where my mother learned the grave transcendence of

                  her pain

Would make their heroes and world-makers and world-lovers,

And teach them the secret of that limping walk, that look

                  of eye,

That tilt of chin, the world-passion behind that old back-alley


Which sings through my speech more imperious than trumpets

                 or blue train sounds

Yes, would heal the sick of heart and raise the dead of spirit

And tell them a story

Of their promise

And their glory.

Would sing them a song

All cluttered with my love and regret

And my forgiveness

And tell them how the flurrying of their living shaped

Time past and present into a dream

And how they live in me

And I in them

There it is, some of it sounds familiar, but for the life of me I can't be sure. Anyway Deep Second is a block, or rather three blocks on East Second Street, wherein I spent much of my childhood and youth, and where I spent much of my time, talking and looking at the passersby upon my return. I was born not far from there, had my first job there, and my father died there in the old University of Okla. Hospital building which is now the Y.W.C.A. This ain't much but it's probably the first time anyone was mad enough to try to get Deep Two into a poem. R.E.

Source: MySpace

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Video: "South Side Story" Ta-Nehisi Coates author of The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood discusses Michelle Obama with Paul Coates an outspoken publisher and former Black Panther—his father.

“American Girl" (Ta Nehesi Coates)When Michelle Obama told a Milwaukee campaign rally last February, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," critics derided her as another Angry Black Woman. But the only truly radical proposition put forth by Obama, born and raised in Chicago's storied South Side, is the idea of a black community fully vested in the country at large, and proud of the American dream.


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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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