OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Seeing the light for the first time in decades, Carolyn Filson still marvels at the collection of photographs and newspaper clippings she re-discovered after a move back to Oklahoma.

“I got all this stuff out of the attic,” she states.

Her aunt kept most of it.

She inherited the balance and stored it, buried until she opened the contents and started reading about the grandmother born in the 1800s who later ran a rooming house in the segregated Oklahoma City of a century ago.

“This is all my dad’s side of the family,” she continues.

Her grandfather Charlie Filson was a waiter at the old Huckins Hotel. Inside a small envelope, she pulls out a wallet size card that he had to carry on him.

“If you were a Black person and you were out at night, you had to carry this card with you,” she points out. “You couldn’t be out after sundown.”

Among some of the other artifacts, a 1925 Douglass High School yearbook and some of her aunt’s things.

But the balance contained pictures and news clippings about her own father who signed on to the Oklahoma City Police Dept. in the Summer of 1940, and who likely became the city’s first Black detective in 1944.

Carolyn relates, “He lived in the community. He worked in the community.”

Detective Leslie Filson and his partner took charge of the city’s near east side and ran it for the next 20 years.

She continues, “He was responsible for the community.”

Carolyn’s father didn’t bring home too many stories about his work, but they found their way nonetheless in the form of quarreling couples who, Carolyn recalls, yielded to his counsel while he sat them down on his front porch.

She later heard from wayward teenagers who remember Detective Filson giving them a ride home without them having to give him an address.

“We didn’t even tell him where we lived,” Carolyn recalls them telling her. “He knew where people lived. He could pick you up and take you home.”

Les Filson was a quiet supporter of the early sit-in protests against segregation. He kept the peace at a time when it truly needed keeping.

Carolyn insists, “He was really for what Clara Luper did. (Luper was a high school teacher who organized some of the nation’s first sit-ins and segregated lunch counters across the city). He and Clara were some of the best of friends.”

Filson retired from the police department to work investigations for the local district attorney.

He died suddenly at the age of 62 when Carolyn was just 16, still so many questions left unanswered.

“I do wonder,” she sighs. “I wonder what he would think about this or that.”

This collection is her consolation preserved, left for her to discover in her own kind of investigation of a past she’s only now beginning to fully appreciate.

Carolyn Filson shared much of her family’s legacy with police historians and archivists at the Oklahoma History Center.