Community Group Kicks off Project to Help Tulsa Face Past Violence Against Black Residents

May 17, 2019

Working with the Equal Justice Initiative, the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition has started a project they hope will help the city face past violence and reach reconciliation.

The Tulsa Community Remembrance Project will build a Black Wall Street Memorial at the historic Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church on Greenwood Avenue, which many victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre attended. Rev. Dr. R. A. Turner said it will attract visitors, but that’s not the goal.

"We hope that when they do come, they realize that this is a memorial for the dead — for the killed, for the slaughtered, for the massacred — and not to just treat it like a regular tourist site," Turner said.

Turner said the intent is to have the memorial completed by the race massacre centennial in 2021.

Another part of the project is collecting soil from dozens of known lynching sites and bringing them to rest at the memorial. Coalition member Dr. Tiffany Crutcher said the goal is bringing the community together.

"It takes truth telling and spaces like this to share the truth with people because truth and reconciliation are sequential. And so, it’s necessary," Crutcher said.

City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said she wants to see all involved in the race massacre take responsibility and begin reconciliation.

"If we can do this at the local level, maybe the state will then step up and acknowledge and do what it needs to do, as well as our country," Hall-Harper said.

The Tulsa Community Remembrance Project will also include a racial inustice essay contest for Tulsa County high school students with $5,000 in scholarship awards.

Historieans believe as many as 300 people may have died in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which destroyed 35 blocks in the Greenwood District.