TPS Launches Tulsa Race Massacre Curriculum Ahead Of Centennial As Promised

May 3, 2021

Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Public Schools is rolling out a new curriculum this month to commemorate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre centennial.

Tulsa teachers and the Greenwood Cultural Center developed the new lesson plans, which will be taught in grades three through 12 now and in all grades starting next school year.

TPS Deputy Chief of Academics Danielle Neves said state academic standards adopted in 2002 require the massacre be taught only in high school state and U.S. history classes.

"It’s our belief that’s not enough, right? Especially for students in Tulsa where this is our shared history. And so, we wanted to make sure that our students started to learn about their city and about this history over the course of their studies," Neves said.

The curriculum calls for one to two weeks of learning about the race massacre in social studies class at each grade level.

The district launches the new curriculum as the state moves to ban teaching concepts that could make a student feel discomfort because of their race or sex. Neves said the race massacre curriculum is centered on the story of Greenwood.

"And the legacy of Greenwood — Black Wall Street — understanding the vibrancy of that community is not anything anyone should feel bad about, right? It’s something we should feel proud of as Tulsans. The events of the massacre are part of our shared history here in Tulsa, and we believe deeply that all of our students deserve to understand what happened," Neves said.

Teachers have received training on how to teach the subject and help students who may struggle with it emotionally. TPS has also launched a resource website that includes information for parents, and they’re encouraged to learn about the Tulsa Race Massacre along with their kids.