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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 25 February 2009

LANGSTON, Okla. (AP) _ A historian has netted $60,000 from the auction of vintage films depicting the life of blacks in Oklahoma in the 1920s.
Currie Ballard, the assistant secretary to the state Senate, first sold a copy of the films to the Oklahoma Historical Society, then had his collection of 29 film reels auctioned at the Swann Auction Galleries in New York.
Ballard said the buyer wanted to remain anonymous but that the films were purchased by an Ivy League university.
He called the six hours of silent films the rarest historical artifact he had ever owned. The films were made by S.S. Jones, a Baptist circuit preacher during the 1920s and 1930s.
"This has been the high point of my 30 years of collecting African Americano,'' Ballard said.
The subjects of the films included footage of a funeral procession in Hugo, the 1925 graduation ceremony at what is now Langston University, downtown Boley, a spelling contest at Calvary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, a parade in Muskogee, an oil well near Bristow, high school boys and girls basketball games and the Greenwood District in Tulsa, which was decimated during a race riot in 1921.
"The films show by 1927 Greenwood had been rebuilt,'' Ballard said. "That is the most stunning. It showed the resilience of the black communities and the black people in Oklahoma.''
Also included in the films was footage from California, New York, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


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