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Greenwood Rising Finally Opens Its Doors To The Public

Patrons watch a holographic display of a 1921 barbershop at Greenwood Rising.

After some delays, Greenwood Rising, a history center dedicated to educating visitors on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, had its grand opening for the public today. 


Phil Armstrong is the project director. 


“Today is really just allowing for the public to finally see what six years of planning looks like.”


The project had a building and startup budget of $20 million, and has been criticized by high-profile members of the Black community as being an expensive but superficial effort to acknowledge racial disparities while lacking the motor for real change. 


Armstrong said Greenwood Rising isn’t just window dressing; it will draw tourism dollars to the area.


“Let’s start talking about what reparations look like for this community. We need to come together and make the next step actual economic investment and revitalization of this community. It starts with a place like Greenwood Rising. They come here, they get the history. Then they leave, and we say, ‘Okay, go across the street and go see the historic Greenwood Chamber buildings, go north of there and see Greenwood Cultural Center.’”


Armstrong said people from different backgrounds worked together in good faith to the make the project a reality.


“Let’s be real, brutally honest: we are in Oklahoma. I’m not a person that harps on how people vote, but we have to acknowledge that to build something called a Black Wall Street History Center in the heart of America in an overwhelmingly red political state, that says a lot. Oklahomans can put some of that aside to say, ‘Let’s acknowledge what happened.’”


Public education has been touted as one of the project’s larger benefits. Armstrong said that’s still the case, and the idea is growing. At first he said he was just interested in attracting Tulsa public schools, but other areas of the state have taken notice and an exchange with Oklahoma City is being discussed.


Armstrong said a corporate donor gave $40,000 for school field trips, and other organizations have followed suit.


The center has an array of multimedia exhibits: holograms, audio, video, and physical displays. It’s free for the first year. Later, expenses will be paid through fundraising and ticket sales. 


Greenwood Rising is located at 23 North Greenwood Avenue. It’s open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Tuesday.