2019 Legacy Award Dinner


     The Greenwood Cultural Center, Inc. (“GCC”) Legacy Award Dinner (“Dinner”), was held Thursday, April 18, 2019. The GCC Legacy Award was presented to Bill John Baker, Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation; Marilyn Vann, President, Descendants of the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes; and David Cornsilk, a key Cherokee Freedmen ally and advocate within the Cherokee Nation. Together, the Cherokee Nation, Ms. Vann, and Mr. Cornsilk offer a vivid example of reconciliation in action. 

     For years, controversy loomed over the tribal citizenship status of the descendants of the “Freedmen,” persons of African ancestry living among the Five Civilized Tribes, whether as free or enslaved persons. The ultimate determination hinged on treaty rights, Constitutional issues, and basic human rights. 

     On August 30, 2017, Thomas F. Hogan, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., upheld the citizenship rights of the Cherokee Freedmen descendants in Cherokee Nation v. Nash, finding that the Treaty of 1866 guaranteed citizenship for the Cherokee Freedmen and their progeny. 

     The Cherokee Nation accepted the Nash decision and began the process of reincorporating Cherokee Freedmen back into the tribal fold. This conciliatory gesture settled the matter and ended a contentious and divisive chapter in Cherokee history. 

     GCC honored the Cherokee Nation for its warm and welcoming reception of the Cherokee Freedmen descendants after the Nash decision. GCC honored Marilyn Vann for her diligent pursuit of the rights of the Cherokee Freedmen descendants, most notably as leader of the Descendants of the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes and a lead plaintiff in the Nash case. GCC honored David Cornsilk for his years-long work on behalf of Cherokee Nation citizens of Freedmen descent.

     We truly appreciate our sponsors and supporters who joined us for this wonderful celebration of the legacy of Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District and the important work of GCC.  GCC preserves African-American heritage and promotes positive images of the African-American community by: (i) providing educational and cultural experiences; (ii) encouraging intercultural exchange; and (iii) promoting cultural tourism.

Phil Armstrong, GCC Board Chairman, & honorees;  Marilyn Vann, David Cornsilk, Chief Bill John Baker

Phil Armstrong, GCC Board Chairman, & honorees; Marilyn Vann, David Cornsilk, Chief Bill John Baker

2019 Legacy Award Sponsors

Thank you to our sponsors!



George Kaiser Family Foundation


Anchor Stone

Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation

Cherokee Nation Business

Coretz Family Foundation

George Krumme

Langdon Publishing


The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation

LDF Companies


Conner Winters, LLP

Eli Grayson, Jr.

Frederic Dorwart Lawyers

Maxine and Jack Family Foundation

Modern Woodman of America

Morgan Stanley

OSU Foundation/Tulsa

Ruth K. Nelson

Senior Star

Westview Pharmacy

Tulsa Community College Foundation

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Lauer Cinematography

Meshri Family

Spirit AeroSystems



KKT Architects

Charlotte W. Schuman Living Trust

Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation

Dr. LaVerne Ford Wimberly

Northeastern State University

David Riggs

Indian Health Care Resource Center

Tulsa Library Trust

Roger and Sue Ames

Gilcrease Museum - Susan Neal

Ambrose Furniture (Ray Jezisek)

The Pillar Group

Vicki Dee Baker

Metropolitan Baptist Church

Nancy & Joe McDonald

George Kaiser Family Foundation