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FOLIO ǀ PO BOX 702585, TULSA, OK 74170  ǀǀ KAREN NEUROHR  -  KAREN.NEUROHR@OKSTATE.EDU

FOLIO ǀ PO BOX 702585, TULSA, OK 74170  ǀǀ KAREN NEUROHR  -  KAREN.NEUROHR@OKSTATE.EDUOLIO | PO BOX 702585, TULSA, OK 74170 | (580) 248-0359  ǀ JUDY.NEALE@YAHOO.COM

WOODY GUTHRIE  


“I don’t sing any silly or jerky songs, nor any songs that make fun of your color, your race, the color of your eyes or the shape of your stomach or the shape of your nose. . . I sing songs that people made up to help them do more work, to get somewhere in this old world, to fall in love and to get married and to have kids.”


On October 5, 2001, Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma, FOLIO, designated Okemah as a Literary Landmark in honor of Woody Guthrie.  It was the first step in FOLIO’s Oklahoma Literary Landmarks Celebration, an official Oklahoma Centennial project.  Other Literary Landmarks in the United States are the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress, the Plaza Hotel of Eloise fame, and the William Faulkner home in Oxford, Mississippi. The guidelines for Literary Landmark status come from Friends of Libraries USA, FOLUSA.  FOLIO is a member of FOLUSA as local Oklahoma Friends are members of FOLIO.  Michael Wallis, author of Route 66 and an indispensable library supporter chaired the Oklahoma Literary Landmark Steering Committee.  The committee discussed many of Oklahoma’s excellent authors such as Lynn Riggs, Will Rogers, John Berryman, Ralph Ellison, and Angie Debo, but they selected Woody Guthrie to be the first.  For his thousands of songs and poems, for his autobiographical novel Bound for Glory, for his love of America, he and his birthplace deserved it.  One of his thousands of songs, This Land is Your Land, is among the most beloved songs of the twentieth century.  Another, The Oklahoma Hills, is Oklahoma’s official state folk song.  We also knew that Smithsonian exhibit on Woody Guthrie will be in Oklahoma in early 2002.


The day started with a meeting of Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma, FOLIO, the major sponsor.  Friends live all around the state and they meet when they get together.  Library Friends and the people of Okemah ate good Oklahoma barbecue and got to know each other.  A drawing was held and a children’s book, This Land is Your Land beautifully illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen was won by a student from Virginia Beach, Virginia.  She was asked to read it to a child.  She could easily do that since she is going to be an elementary teacher.  She was also asked to take it back home and donate it to her public library.  She promised to do that.  Michael Wallis donated first edition signed copies of all his books to Bonnie Crawford, the Okemah Public Library librarian.


The plaque was unveiled at the Crystal Theater.  It reads: “Friends of Libraries USA, Literary Landmarks Register – Okemah, Oklahoma, nestled in the Oklahoma Hills and the birthplace on July 14,1912 of Woody Guthrie the renowned poet and folk singer.  The hometown that influenced songs such as the American classic This Land is Your Land and scores of other songs, poems, and books including his autobiographical novel Bound for Glory, is designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of Libraries U.S.A. Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma, FOLIO - October 5, 2001.”  


As the dedication began each child was given an Oreo, a cookie created in 1912, the year that Woody Guthrie was born. The band Doublenotspyz played Woody Guthrie songs.  Michael Wallis introduced the people and groups who made the day possible.* Then Dr. Guy Logsdon, a Smithsonian Scholar, stood on stage alone and made all of us really understand why this town and Woody deserved to be honored over and over again.  Accompanied by his guitar he sang Woody’s songs.  As he ended his presentation, the entire audience stood spontaneously to sing, This Land is Your Land.  Hopefully this will be one more way for Okemah to let the world know who and where they are.





THE PEOPLE WHO MADE IT HAPPEN

Steering Committee

Advisors

Sponsors

Chair, Michael Wallis

Kim Bishop  

Doublnotspyz         

Bill Bernhardt  

Cherri Brown

Friends of Libraries USA, FOLUSA  

Dr. Bob Blackburn   

Bonnie Crawford 

Friends of the Okemah Public Library  

Glenda Carlile

Claudette Goss

The Kerr Foundation, Inc

David Draper Clark

Jeanne Johnson  

Nabisco       

Eugene Earsom

Mike Lambeth

Okemah Community Improve Assn.

Guy Logsdon

Mich Magness

Okemah Public Library  

Teresa Miller

Lynn McIntosh

Okemah Public Schools

Julia Brady Ratliff

Ron Meadows

Okemah Vocational Carpentry Class  

Jan Sanders

Che Seibold

Okfuskee County Historical Society

Tom Terry

Debbie Spears

Oklahoma Center for the Book  


Ruth Travis

Oklahoma Center for Poets & Writers 


Dale Turner

Oklahoma Department of Education  


Kathryn Ward 

Oklahoma Department of Libraries


Dick Wilkderson

Oklahoma Historical Society  



Oklahoma Library Association  



Woody Guthrie Coalition   



World Literature Today