Talking Up Tulsa Town Hall for 2020-21 Season

There’s a buzz that comes with spectacular entertainment. I’m talking about a dance performance that leaves you breathless, or a concert that rouses your soul. I love a play with a message I have to dig for and dissect. When one’s synapses fire at will, it’s a rush.
If you seek out mind-expanding experiences, or don’t mind a bit of world-shaking, I hope you are aware of Tulsa Town Hall. Over the three decades I have attended TTH lectures, I have been shaken and stirred, and left breathless with admiration. For 85 years, Town Hall has presented authorities in every imaginable field to “open minds and stir curiosities,” as its mission states. The upcoming 86th season brims with big-time rousers and shakers who will do just that.
“Tulsa Town Hall works very hard to bring a speaker lineup that is diverse, compelling and within our current budget and schedule,” says Program Committee Chair Carol Spears. “The TTH Program Committee is a select group of Board members chosen by the president who spend hours researching and deliberating those speakers who will address current issues, and who challenge our thinking or help us gain new insights.”
As currently scheduled, opening the series in September is political and cultural commentator David Brooks. Says Spears, “Who would have imagined a year ago, when we began to curate our 2020-21 season that we would be dealing with the worldwide crisis of COVID-19? As we re-evaluate our personal and societal priorities in light of this event, “New York Times” columnist and author David Brooks will visit us on Sept. 11 to discuss his new book, ‘The Second Mountain,’ and what matters most in our lives.”
A precursor to the November election, Tulsa Town Hall hosts political cartoonist Kevin Kallaugher on Oct. 16. Kallaugher has created witty, insightful cartoons for “The Observer,” “The Sunday Telegraph” and “The Mail on Sunday,” along with being the editorial cartoonist for “The Baltimore Sun.” He was the first resident cartoonist for Britain’s “The Economist” in its 145-year history. His cartoons have appeared in more than 100 publications worldwide and in exhibitions at London’s Tate Gallery and the Library of Congress. Kallaugher will comment on current events with pen in hand during a fun and interactive presentation.
Over the years, Town Hall has presented a range of speakers who are thought-provoking. Mexico’s former president Vicente Fox and political consultant James Carville, for instance, pulled no punches. Someone who has been a Washington insider for decades with ties to President George Herbert Walker Bush and his son, among many others, is Republican political strategist Karl Rove. Dubbed “the Architect,” by President George W. Bush, Rove served as Bush’s Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff. Following retirement, he became a Fox News contributor, “Wall Street Journal” columnist and “New York Times” best-selling author. The title of his Jan. 15, 2021 lecture is “Election 2020 and America’s Challenges.”
I’ve often found that the TTH speakers I knew least about were the ones who impressed me the most. That could be the case with Nick Buettner. During the course of his career, he has traveled to 17 locales around the world where people live to be 100 years old or more. He calls these “Blue Zones.” With the visual aid of “National Geographic” photography, Buettner will take audiences to those zones. Among them are Karia, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan, and other places that might surprise you. Beuettner speaks on “Blue Zones: The Making of a Healthy City” on Mar. 12.
Wrapping the series on April 9 is Henry Louis Gates, Jr. You might know him as the host of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots,” or as one of the principal participants in President Obama’s “Beer Summit” in 2009. He’s a MacArthur Genius who taught at Yale. Adding to his many plaudits and more than 50 honorary degrees, Gates was recognized by the “Chicago Tribune” in 2019 with a Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement. The Emmy Award-winning filmmaker is the author of 21 books and 15 documentaries. Gates teaches English and Literature and serves as department chair for Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Due to the global pandemic, Town Hall’s final speaker of the 2019-20 season, Steve Forbes, has been rescheduled. Tulsa Town Hall After Dark featuring Forbes at Cascia Hall will take place on the evening of June 25 (tickets still available, $20) and his lecture at the PAC is slated for June 26.
“After three successful years of TTH After Dark, Tulsa Town Hall will continue to pursue special evening events in collaboration with other great Tulsa organizations in order to expose more community members to the world of Tulsa Town Hall,” assures Board President Beth Bovaird.
Executive Director Kathy Collins adds, “As Tulsa Town Hall concludes its 85th Anniversary season, one of its many sold-out seasons in our rich history, we celebrate the effort of all those who make TTH possible. The time and talents of our volunteer working Board, along with the generosity of sponsors and loyal subscribers are the essence of Town Hall.”
Tulsa Town Hall talks take place at the Tulsa PAC on Friday mornings. Subscription price for the 86th season is $100 for all five speakers. Subscriptions can be purchased at
At this time of global peril, I close with words from upcoming speaker David Brooks. “This is a moment that calls for deeper conversation and emotional accompaniment. We’re all going through something together.”

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