John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park Gets Formal Designation for Civil Rights Network

Aug 27, 2020

Credit John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation

The first Oklahoma site in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s African American Civil Rights Network has received its formal designation.

John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park memorializes the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. It was made a member of the African American Civil Rights Network in June. Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford delivered the park's official designation at an event Thursday and said all eyes will be on Tulsa next year for the centennial.

"The city that demonstrates to the world how it can be done," Lankford said.

The race massacre is among the most devastating racist attacks on Black communities, showing a deeply divided city. U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern said Tulsa has come a long way.

"I believe we also now are a shining example of the power of love," Hern said.

John Hope Franklin, the son of a race massacre survivor, spent his life trying to weave Black Americans’ presence into the nation’s history.

Franklin faced a slew of racist incidents as a young man in Tulsa, including one where a blind woman asked whether he was white or colored while he helped her cross the street. When he said he was colored, she demanded she take his "filthy hands" off of her.

Asked in 2008 during his last public interview why he never showed bitterness about such experiences, Franklin said his mother told him he didn’t have time for it.

"And that, that was not very constructive anyway, and that the time that I took to do that, I could take and make a much better and a much richer life for myself and my fellows around me," Franklin said.

Lankford says he is trying to have all of the Greenwood District added to the civil rights network.