Mike Boynton places importance on helping his players in transition.
On June 23, however, it was not fast break layups he was concerned with, but the transition of a different kind.
Boynton, the head coach of the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team, and his team recently visited the Greenwood District in Tulsa.
It was the site of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, where white rioters destroyed the affluent black neighborhood known as “Black Wall Street.” The losses were major, displacing thousands of African Americans and devastating thriving businesses.
Now, reconstructed into a successful community, the Greenwood district serves as a teaching tool and as grounds for reflection.
Bryce Thompson, a Tulsa native and newcomer to the Cowboy basketball team, shared his thoughts from the visit in a Cowboy basketball video posted to Twitter.
“Being from here, it’s very important that I know what happened,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of stuff that I didn’t know, didn’t learn about. To be able to come down here, learn about the people that died, the people that helped our people develop and how the money stayed within this circle and were able to thrive, it’s very important.”
The Cowboys learned about race relations and history. The impact visiting the site had on players and the lessons it taught may not be seen directly on the scoreboard, but rather years down the road when players careers are over.
“My number one job here is to help these kids in their transition,” Boynton said. “Find out who they want to be and help them become that. It’s an educational process.”
The entire team OSU team made the trip; players and staff alike.
“In order to figure out where you want to go you’ve got to know where you came from,” Boynton said. “Your roots. Especially now with everything that’s been going on. Understanding what happened there, the legacy that was left behind.”
Whether reading the plaques describing the tragic happenings and recovery or walking around the area and being immersed in what was, the trip was enjoyed.
“It gives you some perspective that maybe you wouldn’t have otherwise,” Boynton said. “I’m really thankful that we were able to do it.”
For a team with black and white players and coaches, the visit was more than a weekend trip to the lake or a team dinner at a coach’s house.
“Our guys can understand (how important Greenwood Oklahoma was to the black community), Boynton said. “It was a great opportunity. I’m glad they embraced it. They wanted to be there; it was a learning experience. I look forward to taking my family there.”