Tulsa’s pro soccer team will wear patches celebrating Greenwood’s history and future this season.
FC Tulsa announced Tuesday all its 2021 jerseys will feature the brand for Greenwood Ave., a project local artist Trey Thaxton created to highlight hundreds of Black Wall Street businesses. He redesigns early 20th Century businesses' signs and logos for apparel and art.
"So, it’s important for everybody to understand that Greenwood is not just Black history. It’s American history. So, with this platform, I hope that everybody can understand what Greenwood represented, why it happened, and learn from it so that doesn’t happen again, and we can all be better together," Thaxton said in a video distributed by the team.
May will mark 100 years since the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, when a white mob attacked the prosperous community known as Black Wall Street. The Greenwood District was destroyed, and it's still unknown how many people died.
FC Tulsa has committed to improving north Tulsa communities and honoring Greenwood. In February, the team donated $25,000 to the Greenwood Rising historical museum. The team and club staff took a guided tour of Greenwood to learn more about the history of the community where it plays.
"It’s important that we pay homage to those whose lives were lost and the community that was torn apart. However, I believe it’s equally important to hold in memory what was there prior to the massacre," FC Tulsa coach Michael Nsien said in a statement.
FC Tulsa recently also launched a soccer league for north Tulsa kids and is sponsoring a program to improve relationships with the Tulsa Police Department by having officers play video games with kids.
Thaxton said he’s humbled to help bring attention to a dark part of American history.
"James Baldwin has a quote that says, 'Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.' So, my hope is that this small patch can do a little bit of us facing what happened and moving forward from it," Thaxton said.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of jerseys with the patch will go to the Terence Crutcher Foundation’s Black Wall Street Memorial project. The team is working with local vendors to sell the Greenwood Ave. patch across the city.
FC Tulsa faces fellow USL Championship side Austin Bold in a final preseason match Saturday before opening the season in Oklahoma City on April 24.