Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot continues the stories of Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman and the residents of the Greenwood District after the historical Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Though a sequel to Son of a Preacherman, Greenwood and Archer can be read as a stand alone book.
The White Glove Society has all but destroyed the Greenwood District, home to the affluent blacks in Tulsa. Now those who have survived are trying to recover what is left including Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman. Billy Ray and Benny are engaged but Benny is hesitant to set a date. Jordan Franks, Benny’s ex-fiancee shows up in Tulsa and Benny is confronted with the memories and emotions of the crippling break up she experienced with Jordan. She must decide whether she will stand and face her past or allow it to drive her back into the dark place she'd grown used to before meeting Billy Ray. Billy Ray’s attempts to keep Benny from running away are challenged by his own struggles as he wrestles with God’s call on his life to preach.
DP Dooley, plagued by a past that prompted him to turn from God and become a government agent, is in a turmoil as he wars against enemies seen and unseen. Internally, he fights against the darkness of his soul as the anger and resentment he has harbored against God for most of his life wears him down. Externally, he continues to fight against the threats of the bigoted White Gloves Society, which is growing and trying to increase its racist activities..
The once hard-edged racial views of Chief Tobias Parnell have noticeably dulled and he no longer enjoys the favor of the White Glove Society. Teaming up with Dooley, Chief Parnell fights against illegal racketeering, bootlegging and racial crimes.
A new brotherhood forms in Tulsa, the interdenominational Christian clergyman (ICCA). Braving the social struggles of Tulsa, five clergymen attempt to and bring together God’s people, regardless of race, economic status, gender, ethnicity and even doctrine. Their goal, along with the people of Greenwood is to see a new Tulsa rise from the ashes.
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About the Author
MARLENE BANKS resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along with being a prolific writer she has an associate degree in Theology from Rhema Bible Institute in Keysville, VA and is currently studying to initiate a Christian counseling ministry. Marlene is a member of Bethel Deliverance International Church in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. Her work resume includes thirty plus years in nursing and over eight years in business as a coordinator and administrative assistant. She considers her writing a means of evangelizing and relating Christian principles through fiction. It is also Marlene¿s goal to bridge the gap between faith-based and secular literature.
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GREENWOOD AND ARCHER
By Marlene Banks
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2012 Marlene Banks-Benn
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEAGLES POINTE COUNTY, OKLAHOMA SEPTEMBER 1922
The race riot of May 31 and June 1, 1921, had turned a once thriving entrepreneurial community into a bloody battlefield. Hatred and terror reigned throughout the evening and into the wee hours of the night. To the beleaguered residents of Greenwood District, morning's dawn unveiled the full horror of lost lives and property destroyed.
Thirteen months after the racially motivated riot, Greenwood District still evidenced the assault on its citizens and destruction to its infrastructure. The rebuilding process was under way but would never fully heal the scars of that fateful evening. Gradual development was being made to restore demolished businesses and homes. It was not an easy task, but one that would be completed. The spirit of Greenwood would not tolerate eradication by those consumed with violent intent.
Prayers were continually being offered for the people and the neighborhood from Christ-loving citizens of Tulsa, black and white, and across the country as well. Greenwood District would not remain a hollowed-out shell of a community but be raised from the dead by the hand and will of God.
The county beyond the city limits had not suffered much of the murderous invasions and fiery attacks. Ranchers in Eagles Pointe were busier than ever employing people from Greenwood and providing for the many displaced city dwellers. The most disheartening factor was that after all the wreckage, things had not improved and Tulsa's caste system was still firmly in place.
Amos Grapnel's beady eyes darted around Cordell Freeman's ranch as he was leaning against the large weathered barn. Grapnel's short stature and chubby frame sported a protruding belly and balding head. He sporadically rocked back on his heels to show off the fancy boots he'd recently purchased in Texas. Tom Eberly, a frail gray-haired man who accompanied him, stood slightly bent over leaning on his walking stick as he watched Cord lift a bale of hay. Grapnel pulled out a pipe. "You ought to give it some real thought, boy," he said reaching for the tobacco pouch in his back pocket.
"Told you, I'm not interested in sellin'," Cord said, hauling the bale toward the barn.
"Why not? Offering you more than twice what you paid. Can't beat that for profit."
"Don't care about profit. I'm doing good right here and I don't wanna sell my place, Mr. Grapnel."
"Don't be so quick to turn up your nose at a lot of money, boy. You could get another place if you want with what you'll make, or ... you could sit on your bank account and move back home with your folks." Grapnel grinned slyly.
"I done told you I'm not interested," was Cord's irritated response.
"Plain pigheaded," Grapnel grumbled, "just like your father."
"We might as well go," Eberly said, shifting his weight impatiently.
"Why are you so attached to this place anyway?" Grapnel continued. "It's not your family's land. You're all alone out here except for those hired workers you got from town. Don't have no family around here to keep you company. I'd think you'd be glad to be rid of this place seeing you lived here with that no-good wife that hung herself."
Cord's head jerked up. Lightning fast he dropped the bale and charged. Before Grapnel could react, Cord had him by throat. "I'll kill you for talkin' that way about my wife," he shouted, clamping tightly on the man's throat. Grapnel's eyes bugged as he desperately groped at Cord's hand to get free.
Eberly straightened up as best he could hollering, "Let 'em go! You'll choke the life outta him!" He whacked Cord across the back with his cane twice. "Turn him loose!"
The blows didn't faze Cord. He was crazed with fury. "You come on my land talkin' against my wife, you lowdown snake! I'll kill you, so help me, I'll kill you!"
Grapnel's color was starting to drain. Eberly looked over at Grapnel's car trying to gauge how fast he could make it to the vehicle and retrieve his friend's pistol. The sound of fast-moving hooves drew his attention and he turned all the way around.
"Cord, let him go," a frantic female screamed from on top of an impressive palomino. "Let him go, Cord!"
A large muscular man ahead of her had already dismounted from a huge brown stallion and was hurrying toward the choking man. Eberly stumbled backward seeing the powerfully built black male rushing toward them. "Stay out of this," Cord yelled, trying to maintain his grip when the man grabbed his hands, prying them loose from Grapnel's neck.
"Cord, please let him go," the woman pleaded, bolting toward him after she jumped down from her horse.
"They'll kill you for sure if you do this," the man warned looking Cord in the eyes. "Is that what you want ... to die for killing this devil?"
Cord stopped applying pressure but he still had hold of Grapnel. "He should die, him and all his rotten kind. They killed those people in town and the law did nothin' about it! Not one drop of justice to those murdering dogs. He was part of it, you said so yourself. He tried to kill you, didn't he? So why shouldn't he die?"
"You're right, he was part of it and the law did nothing to him or the rest of them but believe me the Lord will do something. He'll have His justice for all the evil done in this world."
"Ain't waitin' on the Lord. This polecat needs dealing with now. He belittled my wife and I won't put up with him or nobody else talkin' like that about her."
"Make him turn Amos loose," Eberly demanded raising his cane in the air again. "He gotta breathe."
Cord's sister, Benny, reached her brother and gently put her hand on his shoulder. "Cord, please, please don't do this. Let him go. Billy Ray's right; Jesus will have justice for all the wrongs done to our people, but not this way. They will answer to God, and if we wait it out, justice will be done. There's been too much killing already; please, no more."
"I oughta snap his nasty neck."
"Don't let this man goad you into tangling with the law, 'cause you'll lose. That's all they need is for you to get arrested for killing him then they'll gladly see you in the electric chair. I couldn't stand losing my big brother and neither could Momma. Please, please let him go." Tears filled her eyes.
Cord released Grapnel, dumping him on the ground. Grapnel gasped for air, loudly coughing and holding his throat. Eberly limped over to his friend. Cord looked down at his foe with loathing. "I should finish you off," he threatened. "I don't care nothin' 'bout dyin' in no electric chair. I'd be with Savannah if I did." He looked at his sister. "But for your sake, just for you and Momma, I won't."
"Thank the Lord." Benny sighed, laying her head on his shoulder. "We love you, Cord, and we need you here with us." She resented her brother's devotion to his deceased wife but had learned not to show it.
Billy Ray put his hand on Cord's back. "You made the right decision, the wise one."
"He ought to be jailed for attackin' a white man," Eberly insisted, pointing his stick at Cord.
"Shut up, old man. Take your no 'count friend and get off my land!"
"Won't forget this, boy. You wait and see, the law'll handle your crazy black hide."
Billy Ray lifted the still coughing victim off the ground. Grapnel couldn't speak but his expression, a mix of fear and rage did. He jerked away. Billy Ray knew his hateful nemesis would never let this matter drop. Still, he tried to brush the dirt from Grapnel's clothes as the incensed man rejected his assistance. "I'm trying to help clean you off," Billy Ray pointed out.
"Get your big black hands off me, boy," Grapnel croaked snatching himself free, though barely able to stand. "I'd as soon see you dead than have you touch me, you big ape." He walked shakily toward his vehicle with Eberly limping beside him.
"Shoulda let me choke the life out him," Cord grumbled squinting from the noonday sun.
"Don't think I didn't want to, but I couldn't," Billy Ray said, watching the ornery pair depart. Memories of the harrowing riot and his almost fatal encounter with Amos Grapnel and Moose Kegel came vividly back to his mind. He immediately prayed, Lord, heal my soul and fix my heart because if You don't, what I do to that man won't be pretty. Remove my hatred, Jesus.
"Why was he here?" Benny asked.
"Wants me to sell this place to Eberly."
"What for? Why does Eberly want this ranch at his age and in his condition?"
"Same reason the rest of them wantin' to buy up all of Greenwood, I reckon. Eberly said something about leavin' an inheritance for his grandkids."
"What did you tell him?" Billy Ray asked.
"That I wouldn't sell." "I take it he got mad and said what?" Benny wanted to know.
"Opened his foul mouth against Savannah, that's what." Cord's jaw tightened.
Benny shot Billy Ray a telling look. "what does she have to do with you selling your ranch?"
"Nothing, he was being nasty is all."
"You know he's going to cause trouble over this," Billy Ray predicted.
"I'm telling Ethan in case you need his help," Benny said.
"I'll tell him myself. He's comin' here later." Cord walked over to the bale of hay he'd dropped. "What brought you two over?"
"Divine intervention I'd say." Billy Ray chuckled.
"Momma's cooking steaks on the pit tomorrow. She wants you come by and eat with us."
"Tell her thanks for askin', but I can't."
"Why not? You love beef on the pit. You love Momma's rhubarb apple pie too." Benny smiled.
"Sounds good, but I got a lot to do around here."
"Stop making excuses and come over. You never accept our invites to visit. Why can't you let bygones be bygones? Daddy'll be so happy to see you."
"Did he say that?" Cord dropped the bale inside the barn door and headed for another. Billy Ray fell in step behind him.
"Well, not in so many words but I know he misses you and ..."
"Let it rest, Benny. It's all right; I'm doing fine here on my own. I don't hold no ill feelings toward Dad anymore, but what happened can't be undone. Truth of the matter is I don't think it was all my fault. I feel bad about what I did, don't get me wrong. I should have never disrespected him that way no matter what he said, but he's never owned up to his wrong in the matter so that's it. Leave it alone."
"You know how stubborn Daddy is."
"Yeah, well so am I."
"Daddy still loves you, Cord, and he wants you to be part of our family like always. He said so."
"You can't go back, Benny. That's the hard thing about making bad mistakes. You're stuck with the consequences."
"God gave us the ability and right to repent for our mistakes. To turn away from our misdeeds and ask forgiveness and to forgive people who hurt us."
"I already asked Dad and God to forgive me, and I forgave Dad so let it go at that. Things may never be like they used to be between us. You need to accept that," Cord said firmly.
"Benny, your brother said let it go so you should respect that," Billy Ray advised.
Benny sighed in frustration. "All right, I'll leave it be."
Chapter TwoTULSA, OKLAHOMA
Tulsa chief of police, Jake Gilbert, massaged his temples. Listening to Amos s overblown description of the assault prompted him to look down at the aspirin on his desk. Grabbing them up when Grapnel finished his exaggerated narrative, Gilbert threw them in his mouth, swallowing water from a glass in front of him.
"Tom can verify every word I told you," Grapnel said, tightlipped. Tom Eberly sat beside him, head bobbing in agreement. Gilbert swallowed the pills and closed his eyes sitting back massaging his temples more vigorously than before.
The two men exchanged impatient glances before Grapnel grunted, "Spit it out. What do you plan on doin' about that Freeman boy trying to choke me to death?"
"You were on his property, right?" Gilbert asked. He didn't bother to open his eyes.
"That's right; what of it?"
"Nothin'. Just getting the facts straight."
"Stop stallin', Jake, and send somebody out there to arrest that crazy darkie."
"Don't come in here tellin' me what to do," the chief growled. He sat up and made himself open his eyes. "Listen, Amos, I got a headache the size of Texas. I ain't doin' nothin' till it's gone, so come back tomorrow and we'll see what's what."
"That's right, the day after today."
"Don't give me any wisecracks. You mean to tell me you're gonna let that colored get away with what he did to me?"
"I didn't say that. I said come back tomorrow. Go out to the desk and make an official complaint report."
Grapnel stood on his feet. "Was a time a white man didn't have to file no official reports to get action from the law against them people. You're on thin ice around here, so I would think you'd want to prove yourself worthy."
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
"It means you don't act like you know how you got where you are or who put you there and who can get you out. Kowtowin' to coloreds from up north don't look good. Neither does lettin' them have their way and ignoring the rights of decent white folks. Don't think any of this has gone unnoticed."
"You're outta line talkin' like that. You and your friends better back off me."
"That's not what you were saying when they indicted you for neglect of duty."
"I was exonerated of any wrongdoing or negligence, remember?"
"Thanks to us."
The chief rose from his seat staring Grapnel in the eyes. "Who do you think you are comin' in here talkin' to me this way?"
"It's not just me. Everybody's taking a real interest in how this police department's bein' run lately."
"Listen here, Amos, run your real estate business and leave enforcin' the law to me. I don't step in your territory, so don't you tread on mine. That goes for you and that so-called everybody you're referring to."
"I wouldn't be stupid enough to make enemies with the wrong people if I were you. In case you haven't noticed, them Greenwood coloreds can't hardly help themselves since they've been put in their place. Sure ain't gonna be able to help you if you turn your back on your own kind. Better act like you know you're a white man and stop caterin' to those government people snoopin' round here ... and stay clear of them high-minded Negroes from that NAACP."
"I don't cater to no-blasted-body and you or nobody else tells me what to do! Now get out of my office!"
Eberly scuffled up out of his chair grabbing his cane. "Come on, let's go."
Grapnel was staring the chief down. "Don't be a fool. Those people aren't worth it." He started toward the door. "You know, I'm surprised at you. You used to have as little tolerance for them as any of us. You've changed, Jake, what happened? Getting soft in your old age?"
"I'm giving you fair warning, Amos; walk a straight line in Tulsa. Don't even spit on the curb and let me catch you, 'cause I'll run your trouble-making hide in, so help me."
"You'll regret going up against me. I promise you won't like me when I'm crossed. So I'm giving you one more chance to redeem yourself. Are you gonna do something about Cordell Freeman or not?"
"I'll look into it tomorrow like I said. Make sure you fill out the complaint with the desk sergeant. Once that's done I'll see what's to be done—in my time not yours."
"I'll fill out your dadblasted complaint. Just make sure you take care of that black boy."
Chapter ThreeGREENWOOD DISTRICT IN TULSA
Elizabeth Whitehead was a beautiful woman, elegant and gracefully poised. An enticing figure enhanced her stylishly conservative apparel. Her big round eyes were highlighted by their unusual hazel color. Elizabeth's face, with its smooth, light-complexioned skin and delicate features was perfection itself. Her mannerisms were a paradox tottering between homespun earthiness and learned sophistication.
Elizabeth's constant movements around the room distracted Ethan. He couldn't keep his eyes off the cute little sway of her hips when she walked. He was enchanted by her smile and delighted at her laughter, which sounded like music to his ears. When she said his name in her soft, warm voice, he heard angels singing in chorus to his soul.
The most disturbing thing was her touch. When she casually brushed against him or touched his arm he felt a surge of excitement beyond anything he'd ever experienced. Ethan had witnessed these foolish emotions, the silly inclinations in other men. He'd laughed at their bumbling around like lost puppies because of some woman. He shook his head in sympathy more than once about men who forsook reason and sanity behind loving a woman. Determined not to be consumed by romantic sentimentality Ethan swore off the pitfalls of head-over-heels love. A calm, compatible friendship had always been enough for him.
Excerpted from GREENWOOD AND ARCHER by Marlene Banks Copyright © 2012 by Marlene Banks-Benn. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013 Greenwood and Archer: A Novel by Marlene Banks, ©2012 I have read the first two books by Marlene Banks, Ruth's Redemption and Son of a Preacherman, and have looked forward to reading this third book, Greenwood and Archer. In late May and early June, 1921, a race riot erupted in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. An estimated three hundred men, women, and children lost their lives, and churches, schools, stores, movie theaters, a hospital, and libraries were among the six hundred businesses destroyed, besides over a thousand homes. These events were depicted in the author's Son of a Preacherman. The events in Greenwood and Archer take place after Son of a Preacherman, continuing the stories of members of the Matthias and Freeman families, as well as other Tulsa characters. --A Note to the Reader, author Marlene Banks Destruction on every side, Billy Ray Matthias joins in rebuilding and encouragement of the people of Greenwood District together, following the riot and burning of the community. He is engaged to the daughter of rancher Earl Freeman. Benny and her brothers, Ethan and Cord, are very close. The two families join for Sunday dinners. Billy Ray's father is Reverend Roman Matthias. Greenwood and Archer is told through the story of these two families and others in the community as they strive to rebuild lives. The upheavals bring others to add to the peril they are already overcoming. Benny, a school teacher, is visited by her former fiancé who has brought havoc to her life in the past. He is a musician and brings his band with him. One member and Billy Ray know each other. A woman is sent from NAACP, sharing the law office of Ethan, Benny's brother, and a struggle. A Chicago gangster and his mob move in to set up his plan of taking over and making a name for himself. All of them are interwoven into the life of each other through circumstances they are not fully aware of. Lawmen join together to combat what before had separated them. In looking for solutions when they are needing help, they pray and do not push God aside. Throughout it shows what God can do through one person as they are strengthened and gain direction by coming to Him. They do not give up at adversity as they help and support each other. Isaiah 26:3–4 (ESV) 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Marlene Banks lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along with being a prolific writer, she has an Associate of Theology Degree from Rhema Bible Institute in Keysville, Virginia, and is currently studying to initiate a Christian counseling ministry. Marlene has worked thirty plus years in nursing and more than eight years in business. She considers her writing a means of evangelizing and relating Christian principles through fiction. Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot continues the stories of Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman and the residents of the Greenwood District after the historical Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Though a sequel to Son of a Preacherman, Greenwood and Archer can be read as a stand alone book. ***Thank you to author Marlene Banks for providing me with a copy of Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot to read and review in my own words.***