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The Center for Public Secrets is dedicated to uncovering the hidden, neglected, and misunderstood history of Tulsa, Oklahoma and beyond. 


The situation in the Tulsa is one of national and international relevance. Throughout Tulsa's history, there have been moments where this city serves as a crossroads to all that is America– to all that America represents, both the beautiful and the destructive. With the founding of the Center for Public Secrets, we will create a space to explore that collective history.  We will be a meeting ground, where we cannot only listen and learn from what our predecessors left with us, but also from ourselves.

The Center will explore subjects of local and national importance that affects our city. Through events, exhibits, and content, the Center will delve into aspects of our collective history that others may dare not tread. We will create. We will confront it. But also, we will listen to those who have a story to tell. We don’t tell other people's stories, we will elevate the voices of those who are too seldom heard. 


To provide Tulsans access to the hidden and neglected history of our city through events, content, and as a public forum for discussion, storytelling, and creativity. 


We envision a Tulsa where young people are inspired and resourced to explore our past so they mold the future of their community. We work to create a space for place-based learning through educational workshops, presentations, and artistic expression with community-created programming that is accessible to all. 

Founded in 2008 by “History Recovery Specialist” Lee Roy Chapman, The Center for Public Secrets is a collection of research, journalism, and artifacts that explore the sub-popular culture of Oklahoma.

A longtime student of Oklahoma history, Chapman’s work focused on race relations, art, music, and radical histories.  Chapman authored several articles that received global attention. In 2011, he published "The Nightmare of Dreamland: Tate Brady and the Battle for Greenwood" in This Land magazine, which revealed that a founder of Tulsa was also an architect of the city's most violent hate crime--the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. The article was lauded by historians such as Alfred Brophy and Scott Ellsworth and has been cited by media companies ranging from National Public Radio to The Guardian.  Chapman was instrumental to the work happening today to rid the city of the Brady name on streets, businesses, and entire districts.

Aside from his writings, the controversial Chapman also produced documentaries and art installations that address topics ranging from Bob Wills, the New York School of Poets, the art of Larry Clark to the Creek Freeman mass graves in South Tulsa.  As a curator, Chapman also located and acquired a number of important historical artifacts and artworks that now reside in the Smithsonian NMHHAC, Yale, Duke and Tulsa Universities Library’s as well with private collections.

Through events, exhibits, and content, the Center will carry on the spirit of Chapman’s work and passion for Tulsa.   We will delve into aspects of our collective history that others may dare not tread.  We will listen to the community.  We will investigate to find the truth.  We will elevate voices of those who are too seldom heard.  We will reveal our secrets.  Join us as we embark on this journey. One towards understanding, justice, and reconciliation.  Let’s spread the good vibes together.

"So, this is what I do.  I read about this stuff, research it, and drive around and find this stuff.  Some people care.  Some people don’t care.  It doesn’t pay.  It’s like horrible.  I’m chronically unemployed.  I’m obsessed…."  


It will take all of us to build the kind of honest and inclusive city that we deserve. If you believe in this work, consider making a tax-deductible donation. 


OAKLAWN is the Center's first full-length documentary project. The project goes behind the scenes to explore the human impact of the 1921 Graves Investigation at Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa.  WATCH THE FILM NOW.

Throughout the year, the Center hosts a variety of events, exhibitions, and discussions focused around the hidden and neglected history of Tulsa, Oklahoma and beyond. Check out of EVENTS PAGE to learn more and plan your visit. 

CfPS has partnered with some incredible organizations such as AWARE Tulsa, TAF, and the Terrance Crutcher Foundation  to provide a community space for workshop's, classes, meetings, and events that have a clear and unique benefit to the Tulsa community. 

Our 1,200 square foot in the heart of Tulsa's Pearl District is perfect for small events, performances, gallery shows and more. Contact us to learn more about renting the space for your next event! 

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