Instructor Spotlight: Andre L. Head

Andre’ Head brings over thirty years of managerial experience to his quest for community preservation and restoration, historical confirmation, and family research. With his professional and avocational interests overlapping, Mr. Head served the State of Washington as a Federal Marshal, was a Safety Manager with Experience Music Project and Chateau Ste Michelle, and with his beloved bomb-sniffing canine Misha, served as a Certified Explosives Detection Officer in Seattle, Washington. While in Oklahoma, Andre’
taught Health and Safety courses at Central State University, now UCO, devoted attention to his first career in Fire Safety, serving as Fire Chief of Forest Park, and as Edmond’s first African American firefighter, as Edmond’s first Black Major of Fire Prevention, was earlier appointed as an Arson Investigator, and served earlier as a Life Safety Instructor.
During the same period, Head became an avid genealogist, devoting years of research to family heritage. Resultantly, Andre’ collected numerous anecdotes, researched years of records and discovered previously uncovered and authentic data on six-plus generations of his own family! As Founder and CEO of THE COLTRANE GROUP, HISTORY IN PROGRESS, an organization committed to preserving the rich heritage and deep history of Black Towns, Head discovered the alarmingly disappearing number and often
disappointing condition of many of Oklahoma’s Black Towns. Currently numbering only thirteen, Oklahoma’s Historic Black Towns became the primary focus of THE COLTRANE GROUP and their Board.

Heavily involved in the revitalization efforts of Boley and her renewal efforts, The Group recently completed an Assessment of the Boley Public Library for the National Park Service, and a museum exhibit initially shown for six months at the Oklahoma History Center, “Colored Memories”. This is a colorized depiction of black and white photos from the 1920’s and 30’s collected and colorized by Head that reflects the cultural and early entrepreneurial richness of Boley. Having been amazed by the ongoing discovery of
entrepreneurial success and civic sophistication in our early All-Black townships, Andre’ became excited to share this awe-inspiring information with others. Mr. Head later produced the first in a series of documentaries about “The Crown Jewel’ (Boley) and her annual rodeo, both prominently featured on social media. Concerned about reviving knowledge of and interest in the treasures of the Historic Black Towns, The Coltrane Group subsequently developed The Historic Black Towns’ Tours, which five times per year conduct different chartered bus ‘tours w/meals’ guided by The Heads to these Towns, two or three sites per Tour. Head also created the Black Genealogy Research Group (BGRG) of Oklahoma, an organization dedicated to the discovery/research of people’s roots and heritage via official genealogical search. That group now proudly meets monthly at The Oklahoma History Center.

Having served on the Boards of the Washington State Association of Safety Engineers, Washington State Crime Stoppers, Woodinville Fire Safety Council, and on the Executive Board of The Evergreen Safety Council., Andre’ is a member of the American Association of Museums, the Oklahoma Historical Society, the National Fire Marshals Association, the International Association of Arson Investigators, and other professional organizations. Andre’ was recently featured professionally in an issue of the Safety Council’s ‘People in Safety’ magazine’, and is a proud member of St. John Missionary Baptist Church where he serves on its Black Heritage Committee and a Lead on St. John’s Security Team. A man of diverse talents, Andre’ designed and produced the entire run’s first leather labels for a popular Chateau Ste Michelle Winery product!

Happily married to his high school sweetheart, Jessilyn (also the Chief Operating Officer of The Coltrane Group), Andre’ and his wife are proud parents of five grown children and doting grandparents to seven beautiful grandbabies! Andre’ is eager to share with you the rich history and continued progress of The Historical All-Black Towns of Oklahoma.

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