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Luther’s Threatt Station, coming home and going far

Luther—David Threatt came home. His last name is legend, a name known far beyond our town limits, but he has never had an address in this town, until this year. He bears the name of his great grandfather Allen Threatt, who defied cultural norms and discrimination to open the Threatt Filling Station, the only black-owned business of its kind on Route 66. While David grew up in Oklahoma City, he only recently moved here. He said it was a great decision.

“My impressions of the town; I think it’s Oklahoma City’s best kept secret. I love it here. Everyone is very friendly. It’s quiet and peaceful, just a great place to be. My kids love it here and they can just be kids and run around and feel safe,” said David Threatt.

David and his family members have been working to bring back the Threatt Station as a museum to teach history, and to honor the past. Bringing back that history requires a lot of paperwork, including applying as a 501c3, then fund-raising for grants, and even selling t-shirts. Check out the gofundme page.

In Luther on Route 66, the Threatt Filling Station was the first black owned service station and rest stop on historic Route 66. Artwork developed by Shellee Graham

A rececent fund-raiser with Oklahoma Lt. Gov Matt Pinnell raised $15,000, and a new exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution should also generate interest in the Threatt Station.

The Threatt Station cash register is on loan to the Smithsonian.

“Green Book sites are symbols of ingenuity, resourcefulness, entrepreneurship and power,” said Myriam Springuel, director of SITES and Smithsonian Affiliations. “The exhibition examines how these places shape the narrative of African American travelers and presents a story that is not only one of struggle, but also of strength and vitality.” 

David Threatt says his family’s legacy is true and in danger of being lost if the younger generations do not preserve it. “I developed a passion for finding out about the station. The last four or five years, I started developing a real passion, what is this Threatt family gas station about? what type of impact did it have on the community and people from across the country?”

“Our plans are to open it as a museum where people can come visit and learn more about it. It’s important. If we don’t recognize the history of where we’ve been, we tend to fall back into the cycles that once existed.

“You can see that now in this country – lots of turmoil. One group here; one group there. It’s being torn apart, like the country is going backwards. It’s un-mending a lot of hurt and pain,” he said.

On having important discussions in our community

David Threatt reached out to The Luther Register in hopes to elevate a dialogue about race in our community, after the events of the last few months – touched off, in part, by the death of George Floyd.

“Being a part of this community now, with Luther Register the media source … I wanted to reach out to you to see if we are going to touch on this. What are the feelings of the people in community … do we even want to talk about black issues here in Luther?

“There are a lot of black people here, even though demographics show it’s a small number. You being a media source for the town, what does that look like for the black person that is here and living here in Luther. Do you report any news that deal with black issues. 

“Unfortunately this type of thing has been happening for quite some time. This is turning out to be, the final straw for a lot of people. That’s across the globe now. It’s not just one situation. Clearly the oppressed people are speaking out. It’s more than just being black.”

David was recently named to the Luther Planning Commission, and brings his energy and passion to help plot the town’s future, while honoring its past while noting that in addition to the Threatt station, the local library is named for his great aunt Elizabeth Threatt.

RELATED STORIES
Read about Elizabeth Threatt
Read more about the Threatt Filling Station
Read more about Booker T Washington High School

“I’ve been up to the old Booker T Washington High School which at one point was the top black high school in the country. It would be great to restore that history, and that park.”

Booker T Washington High School in Luther fell into disrepair and was razed in the 1980s.

There’s a lot of opportunity out here. 

“We think we can be a contribution to this community by restoring the station and through tourism, we can really gain a lot of economic growth and increased sales tax dollars.” He said tourists coming to see the station will also stop in to Luther businesses that range from restaurants to shops and other attractions, in Luther and along the Deep Fork District between Arcadia and Stroud.

Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office

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