Another arrest has been made in connection with the fatal Memorial Day shootings in Taft, and law enforcement agencies are still seeking two other men who are also charged with murder in the slaying of a 39-year-old woman.
Sherika Bowler was killed and eight other people were wounded by gunfire that erupted during the town’s Memorial Day festival.
Kendall Alexander, 25, was arrested early Friday as Muskogee police officers and Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers served three warrants in Muskogee, according to a news release from the Muskogee Police Department.
Warrants remain out for Gervorise Warrior, 19, and Keshawn Jackson, 18, the release states.
All three have been charged in state court with one count of murder and eight counts of shooting with intent to kill. Alexander also faces one count of possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.
Skylar Buckner, 26, turned himself in and was the first charged in the shootings. He has made a
court appearance in Muskogee on one count of first-degree murder and eight counts of shooting with intent to kill.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents initially determined that multiple shooters and weapons were involved, and the investigation remains ongoing.
Those with information about Warrior or Jackson are asked to contact the OSBI at 800-522-8017 or
Photos: The 13 historic all-Black towns that remain in Oklahoma
All-black towns still in existence
All-black towns grew in Indian Territory after the Civil War when the former slaves of the Five Tribes settled together for mutual protection and economic security. When the United States government forced American Indians to accept individual land allotments, most Indian “freedmen” chose land next to other African-Americans.
They created cohesive, prosperous farming communities that could support businesses, schools and churches, eventually forming towns. Source: okhistory.org
Located in Okfuskee County eight miles southeast of Okemah,
Clearview was founded in 1903 along the tracks of the Fort Smith and Western Railroad. J. A. Roper, Lemuel Jackson and John Grayson platted the town site and formed the Lincoln Townsite Company to attract settlers and advertise the settlement. From its beginning the community supported a newspaper, the Lincoln Tribune, which evolved into the Clearview Patriarch. Grayson and Roper also organized the Abe Lincoln Trading Company to operate a general store, deal in farm produce, and buy and sell real estate.
The 1907 population figure of 618 declined to 420 by the late 1930s. The Great Depression and the falling price of cotton had severely crippled the town. The 2010 U.S. Census counted 48 living there.
Pictured is the Oklahoma African-American Educators Hall of Fame that opened in 2011 in the Clearview Community Center.
An all-black town in southwestern McIntosh County,
Vernon was established in 1911 on the Tankard Ranch in the Creek Nation. Thomas Haynes secured much of the land for the townsite and played a large part in organizing the community. Its name honored Bishop W. T. Vernon of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. When the Julius Rosenwald Fund provided money to help build a public school, Vernon became one of the first communities in Oklahoma to receive assistance from that philanthropic source.
The Vernon Rock Front Post Office is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Rock Hill School is listed in the Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory as a resource related to African American history. Like many rural towns of Oklahoma, Vernon suffered economic distress during the Great Depression. No population statistics are available.
The town of
Langston in Logan County is 10 miles northeast of Guthrie. The name honors John Mercer Langston, an African-American educator and U.S. representative from Virginia. Because Langston and Brooksville began in Oklahoma Territory, they differ from the other thirteen surviving all-black towns. Although E. P. McCabe has been credited for founding the town, Charles Robbins, a white man, owned the land and filed a town survey and plat in 1891. The two men opened the town April 22, 1890.
In 1897, through the influence of McCabe, the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature established the Colored Agricultural and Normal University (later Langston University) at Langston. The college helped Langston endure the Great Depression.
Many prominent Oklahomans have made Langston their home or were affiliated with the university, including Melvin Tolson, Ada Louis Sipuel Fisher, Clara Luper, E. Melvin Porter, Frederick Moon, Marques Haynes, Zelia Breaux, Isaac W. Young, Inman Page and Zella Black Patterson. Simon Alexander Haley, the father of acclaimed author Alex Haley, taught at the college. The 2010 census found 1,724 living in Langston.
Located in Pottawatomie County 4 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 who 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.
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. It incorporated in October 1972. At the turn of the 21st century, Brooksville had 90 residents, but by 2010, the number had dropped to 63.
Formerly known as Wildcat,
Grayson is situated in southeastern Okmulgee County. The town was named for Creek Chief George W. Grayson. A Grayson post office was established Feb. 10, 1902, and was discontinued April 30, 1929. By 1909 the small rural community boasted five general stores, two blacksmiths, two drug stores, a physician, and a cotton gin. At the turn of the 21st century Grayson's population was 64.1 percent African-American, 9.8 percent white and 9.8 percent American Indian. It had two public schools, two churches, and a community center where area residents voted.
Here, Shirley Nero takes a photo of an old two-cell jail building in Grayson in 2013.
Lima is in Seminole County between Seminole and Wewoka. At the turn of the 20th century, Seminoles and Seminole freedmen occupied the area. The community known as Lima, named for the local limestone quarries, existed at least by 1904 and probably earlier. The post office survived from 1907 to 1957, and Grudge V. Gross served as the first postmaster. Established on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, Lima was incorporated in 1913.
In 1926, the discovery and development of the Greater Seminole Oil Field brought prosperity and white settlers to the town. The newcomers started a separate village east of Lima, which became known as New Lima. This community never incorporated but built its own school, post office and businesses. The combined population numbered 239 in 1930 and 271 in 1940. With the decline in the oil boom, the population dropped. In 1957, with the end of segregation, the Lima and New Lima schools merged. As the 21st century began, almost 90 percent of the population of Lima and New Lima commuted to work, most to Seminole or Wewoka.
Boley is the largest and most well known of the all-black towns of Oklahoma. The town was named after J. B. Boley, a railroad official of the Fort Smith and Western Railway. Founded in 1903 and incorporated in 1905, Boley and the African-Americans living in the area prospered for many years.
By 1911, Boley boasted more than 4,000 citizens and many businesses, including two banks and three cotton gins. Booker T. Washington, founder of the National Negro Business League and the Tuskegee Institute, in Alabama, visited the town in 1905 and proclaimed it "the most enterprising and in many ways the most interesting of the Negro towns in the United States." The town supported two colleges: Creek-Seminole College and Methodist Episcopal College. Boley also had its own electrical generating plant, water system and ice plant. The Masonic Grand Lodge completed a majestic Masonic Temple around 1912. At the time, it was said to be the tallest building between Okmulgee and Oklahoma City.
Like many rural towns, Boley suffered through hard times in the 1920s and 1930s. At the dawn of the 21st century, with a population of 1,126, the town was experiencing economic rejuvenation. The number of residents was 1,184 in 2010. Boley still hosts the nation's oldest African-American community-based rodeo every Memorial Day weekend.
Lee Tatum and his wife, Mary, applied for a post office designation in 1895, beginning the town of
Tatums in Indian Territory. A hotel was built in 1899, a blacksmith shop in 1900, a cotton gin and sawmill in 1910, and a motor garage in 1918. Oil wells were drilled in the area in the 1920s, bringing wealth to several of Tatums' farmers and landowners. The Julius Rosenwald Fund helped build a brick school in 1925–26, and the WPA built another in 1936. Tatums' Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was completed in 1919.
Tatums experienced the crippling effects of the Great Depression, and many residents migrated to urban areas. At the end of the 20th century, the population stood at 172, and the town awaited economic revival. The 2010 census counted 151 residents.
Located 17 miles southwest of Muskogee,
Rentiesville possesses a unique blend of musical and academic achievements, according to Tulsa World stories. This all-black town was home to the late famed blues man D.C. Minner, who annually hosted the Dusk 'Til Dawn Blues Festival in Rentiesville, a festival that attracts blues artists and fans alike. Also defining the small town, which was established in 1903, is its pivotal role in the Civil War. Oklahoma's most significant Civil War event, the Battle of Honey Springs, was fought in Rentiesville and is known as the "Gettysburg of the West."
Here, D.C. Minner's guitar is on display in the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame in Rentiesville.
The Barber and Ruffin families settled in the
Red Bird community before 1900, and other families soon followed. The settlement attained a post office in 1902, with A. A. White as the first postmaster. In 1889, E. L. Barber, one of the town's developers, organized the First Baptist Church, the largest church in Red Bird. He also became Red Bird's first justice of the peace and served as an early mayor. The Red Bird Investment Company recruited African-American families from all parts of the South to settle in the newly established town. More than 600 people attended the grand opening at Red Bird, Aug. 10, 1907. By 1920, Red Bird's population was 336.
Red Bird faced devastation and population decline brought about by falling cotton prices and by the onset of the Great Depression. In 1930, the population was 218. It rose and fell over the decades, reaching a high of 411 in 1950 but dropping to 310 in 1960 and 199 in 1980. At the beginning of the 21st century, the town was steadily rebuilding, although the population stood at only 137 in 2010.
Taft started as the community of Twine, which had a post office by 1902. In 1904, citizens named the town Taft in honor of then Secretary of War (later President) William Howard Taft. The settlement developed in the Creek Nation on land allotted to Creek freedmen.
Early in the town's history, the citizens promoted their new community throughout the South. The Reaves Realty Company advertised Taft as the fastest growing black community in Oklahoma. Before 1910, the community supported three general stores, one drugstore, a brickyard, a soda pop factory, a livery stable, a gristmill, a lumberyard, two hotels, a restaurant, a bank and a funeral home.
From a population of 250 in 1907, Taft grew to 690 by 1937 and then slowly declined; by 1990, the population was 400. In 1973, the town elected Lelia Foley-Davis (pictured) as mayor, making her the first female African-American mayor in the United States. Davis stepped down in 1989 but was re-elected in 1999. At the approach of the 21st century, Taft exhibited a strong economy. The 2000 census counted 197 residents, and the 2010 census counted 250.
Summit, platted as South Muskogee in 1910, had a post office as early as 1896. The town is in Muskogee County, 6 miles southwest of the city of Muskogee. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway had a depot in the community. The town may have been named Summit because it was the highest point on the railroad between Arkansas and the North Canadian rivers. Rev. L. W. Thomas organized the St. Thomas Primitive Baptist Church in 1923; in 1929, the congregation constructed a church building that still stands. Although not incorporated until 1980, the town has always been self-governed.
Summit suffered during the Great Depression, and after World War II, flight to urban centers added to the decline. The population rose to 226 in 2000 but fell to 139 in 2010.
Tullahassee is considered the oldest of the surviving all-black towns of Indian Territory. The roots of the community were planted in 1850 when the Creek Nation built a school along the ruts of the Texas Road. Near the school, the population of Creek freedmen increased while the population of Creeks declined. The council transferred the American Indian students to another school and gave Tullahassee to the freedmen on Oct. 24, 1881. The town was incorporated in 1902 and platted in 1907. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway line ran through the town, helping to attract settlers.
In 1916, the African Methodist Episcopal Church established Flipper Davis College, the only private institution for African-Americans in the state, at Tullahassee. The college closed after the end of the 1935 session. Tullahassee's population held steady at nearly 200 from 1920. In 2000, the town sheltered 106 citizens, and the 2010 census again found 106 people living there.
The Tullahassee Creek Indian Cemetery has been here since the turn-of-the-century.
All-black towns no longer inhabited
Events of the 1920s and 1930s spelled the end for most black communities. The Great Depression devastated these towns, forcing residents to go west and north in search of jobs. As a result, many of the black towns could not survive. Even one of the most successful towns, Boley, declared bankruptcy in 1939.
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