Bryant Center REVISITED
The Bryant Center opened in the northeast side of Oklahoma City in September of 1960. It featured a bowling alley, dance center, a restaurant and a private supper club. Bryant Center was the epicenter of life for the long suppressed “negro” section of town and as quoted by the Oklahoman, featured “activites for both whites and negros”. This seemingly wonderful addition was the epicenter of black events for the east city. Everything from “Miss Black Oklahoma” to Martin Luther King Sr.
Who spoke for the candidacy of Clara Luper for congress, a local civil rights activist who might as well be the Rosa Parks of Oklahoma City. However beside its early success it suffered from the same blight that the east side has suffered since de-segregation began in 1968. According to countless articles, the center had its share of serious violence and crime. Beginning with a teen who sprayed bullets into a crowd at a dance to a man who bashed the head of another man in the parking lot. It was also a well known illegel gambling hall well into the 1980’s. Apparantly a raid was staged, the staff got word of the sting and alerted the gamblers via a switch in the ceiling that illuminated a light in the hidden room. After it closed the YMCA took over operations. It is unknown if they preserved the interior. They ran the property until 1986 when is was bought by a local couple, again their interest in the property remains unknown. It was sold in 1989 to a holding company. It will hopefully live on, but if the on-goings of the northeast side continue this building will vanish into its own memories and to those who actually needed a location such as this to improve this blighted area.