Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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BROOKSVILLE

One of more than fifty All-Black towns of Oklahoma, Brooksville is one of only thirteen still existing at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Located in Pottawatomie County four miles southwest of Tecumseh, Brooksville was established in 1903. Originally the town was named Sewell, after a white doctor who owned much of the surrounding land and attended the residents. In 1912 the name changed to Brooksville in honor of the first African American in the area, A. R. Brooks, a cotton buyer and farmer. His son, W. M. Brooks, became the first postmaster. In 1906 Rev. Jedson White organized St. John's Baptist Church. Soon afterward, the congregation built a church that still exists. White also promoted the town throughout the South, urging African Americans to settle in Brooksville. Brooksville had a Santa Fe Railroad station, three hotels, two doctors, and two mills.

In 1924, with the aid of the Rosenwald Fund, a new school was built. Banneker School, under management of W. T. McKenzie, was a rock building of four large rooms, a three-hundred-seat auditorium, a small library, and a well-equipped domestic science room. George W. McLaurin, the first African American graduate student at the University of Oklahoma, taught at the school. After a fire, the original building was replaced by a wooden one that served students until the school closed in 1968. The building then became a community center for the town and stands next to the new city hall. A declining cotton market and the Great Depression made life difficult in Brooksville, as in many Oklahoma communities. Most of the residents departed, but the town survived. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Brooksville was steadily increasing in population.

SEE ALSO: AFRICAN AMERICAN FRATERNAL ORDERS, AFRICAN AMERICANS, ALL-BLACK TOWNS, ROSENWALD SCHOOLS, McLAURIN v. OKLAHOMA STATE REGENTS, SEGREGATION

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Brooksville," Vertical File, WPA Writers Project, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Frontier Lore: Pottawatomie County History (Shawnee, Okla.: Pottawatomie Historical Society, 1975). Shawnee (Oklahoma) Escort, November 18, 1973.

Larry O'Dell

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