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Democrats Introduce Federal Resolution Commemorating Race Massacre Centennial, Condemning Racism

Color of Change
(Clockwise from top left) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Color of Change president Rashad Robinson, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) discuss a resolution that would commemorate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre centennial and condemn systemic racism.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have introduced a resolution in each chamber that would recognize the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and condemn historic and ongoing systemic racism. 

The resolution, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) in their respective chambers, would "recognize the commitment of Congress to acknowledge and learn from the history of racism and racial violence in the United States, including the Tulsa Race Massacre, to reverse the legacy of white supremacy and fight for racial justice."

On a Tuesday Facebook Live event hosted by the advocacy group Color of Change, Jackson Lee and Warren discussed what prompted them to draft the resolution.

The massacre is "a painful, searing moment in America's history, one that if you go to Tulsa today... it will be a point of contention and, again, enormous pain," said Jackson Lee. "I can't imagine having your loved one, or being reminded that your ancestor, was thrown in an unmarked grave in the 20th century."

"This is to educate, inform and, yes, to agitate," Jackson Lee said. "To let people know in America that systemic racism exists, it's carried through the ages and it has created huge disparities in the Black community."

Warren said though she was born and raised in Oklahoma, she had never been taught in school about either the massacre or the history of Greenwood and Black Wall Street.

"It was really a remarkable place in a racist society," Warren said, "and there came a point where the white supremacists in Tulsa said, 'We can't have this anymore.' And instead of fighting back economically, they literally went in and massacred people."

"It is important that we have a shared understanding of our country's history. We need to acknowledge the harms perpetrated against Black Tulsans. We need to talk candidly about the racism that fueled the massacre," Warren said.

Public Radio Tulsa reached out to the offices of each member of Oklahoma's all-Republican federal delegation to ask whether they would support the resolution. Reps. Stephanie Bice, Tom Cole, Kevin Hern, Frank Lucas and Markwayne Mullin did not respond.

Leacy Burke, a spokesperson for Sen. Jim Inhofe, said Warren had not informed Inhofe of the resolution.

"Sen. Inhofe is taking a look now, but doesn’t expect this will change his plans for introducing and working to pass a resolution recognizing the centennial with Sen. Lankford in May," Burke said.

Aly Beley, a spokesperson for Sen. James Lankford, did not say whether or not Lankford would support the resolution, providing only the following statement: "The painful history of the Tulsa Race Massacre will be remembered across the nation by many throughout 2021. Senator Lankford, along with the entire Oklahoma delegation, looks forward to standing with the Tulsa 1921 Race Massacre Commission, our Oklahoma neighbors, and the rest of the country to recognize this historic event in our state."

In a press release, Warren's office said the resolution was supported by the NAACP, the National Action Network, Human Rights Watch, the Tulsa Historical Society and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, among others.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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