“I don’t sing any silly or jerky songs, nor any songs that make fun of your color, your race, the color of your eyes or the shape of your stomach or the shape of your nose. . . I sing songs that people made up to help them do more work, to get somewhere in this old world, to fall in love and to get married and to have kids.”


On July 10, 2009, the Woody Guthrie Literary Landmark was rededicated at the Woody Guthrie Park in downtown Okemah. Mr. Dee Jones facilitated the  building of the pedestal for the plaque in honor and memory of his wife, Sharon, who founded the Woody Guthrie Festival.  At the re- dedication, Dr. Guy and Phyllis Logsdon provided music and Bill McCloud provided readings.

On October 5, 2001, Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma, FOLIO, designated Okemah as a Literary Landmark in honor of Woody Guthrie.  It was the first step in FOLIO’s Oklahoma Literary Landmarks Celebration, an official Oklahoma Centennial project.  Other Literary Landmarks in the United States are the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress, the Plaza Hotel of Eloise fame, and the William Faulkner home in Oxford, Mississippi. The guidelines for Literary Landmark status come from Friends of Libraries USA, FOLUSA.  FOLIO is a member of FOLUSA as local Oklahoma Friends are members of FOLIO.  Michael Wallis, author of Route 66 and an indispensable library supporter chaired the Oklahoma Literary Landmark Steering Committee.  The committee discussed many of Oklahoma’s excellent authors such as Lynn Riggs, Will Rogers, John Berryman, Ralph Ellison, and Angie Debo, but they selected Woody Guthrie to be the first.  For his thousands of songs and poems, for his autobiographical novel Bound for Glory, for his love of America, he and his birthplace deserved it.  One of his thousands of songs, This Land is Your Land, is among the most beloved songs of the twentieth century.  Another, The Oklahoma Hills, is Oklahoma’s official state folk song.  We also knew that Smithsonian exhibit on Woody Guthrie will be in Oklahoma in early 2002.

The day started with a meeting of Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma, FOLIO, the major sponsor.  Friends live all around the state and they meet when they get together.  Library Friends and the people of Okemah ate good Oklahoma barbecue and got to know each other.  A drawing was held and a children’s book, This Land is Your Land beautifully illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen was won by a student from Virginia Beach, Virginia.  She was asked to read it to a child.  She could easily do that since she is going to be an elementary teacher.  She was also asked to take it back home and donate it to her public library.  She promised to do that.  Michael Wallis donated first edition signed copies of all his books to Bonnie Crawford, the Okemah Public Library librarian.

The plaque was unveiled at the Crystal Theater.  It reads: “Friends of Libraries USA, Literary Landmarks Register – Okemah, Oklahoma, nestled in the Oklahoma Hills and the birthplace on July 14,1912 of Woody Guthrie the renowned poet and folk singer.  The hometown that influenced songs such as the American classic This Land is Your Land and scores of other songs, poems, and books including his autobiographical novel Bound for Glory, is designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of Libraries U.S.A. Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma, FOLIO - October 5, 2001.”  

As the dedication began each child was given an Oreo, a cookie created in 1912, the year that Woody Guthrie was born. The band Doublenotspyz played Woody Guthrie songs.  Michael Wallis introduced the people and groups who made the day possible.* Then Dr. Guy Logsdon, a Smithsonian Scholar, stood on stage alone and made all of us really understand why this town and Woody deserved to be honored over and over again.  Accompanied by his guitar he sang Woody’s songs.  As he ended his presentation, the entire audience stood spontaneously to sing, This Land is Your Land.  Hopefully this will be one more way for Okemah to let the world know who and where they are.


       Steering Committee Advisors Sponsors
  Chair, Michael Wallis Kim Bishop   Doublnotspyz         
  Bill Bernhardt   Cherri Brown Friends of Libraries USA, FOLUSA  
  Dr. Bob Blackburn    Bonnie Crawford  Friends of the Okemah Public Library  
  Glenda Carlile Claudette Goss The Kerr Foundation, Inc
  David Draper Clark Jeanne Johnson Nabisco       
  Eugene Earsom Mike Lambeth Okemah Community Improve Assn.
  Dr. Guy Logsdon Mich Magness Okemah Public Library  
  Teresa Miller Lynn McIntosh Okemah Public Schools
  Julia Brady Ratliff Ron Meadows Okemah Vocational Carpentry Class  
  Jan Sanders Che Seibold Okfuskee County Historical Society
  Tom Terry Debbie Spears Oklahoma Center for the Book  
  Jim Tolbert Ruth Travis Oklahoma Center for Poets & Writers 
    Dale Turner Oklahoma Department of Education  
    Kathryn Ward  Oklahoma Department of Libraries
    Dick Wilkerson Oklahoma Historical Society  
      Oklahoma Library Association  
      Woody Guthrie Coalition   
      World Literature Today