1921 Tulsa Race Massacre


An online store that pays homage to Black Wall Street is open for a limited brick-and-mortar run, and it’s trying to raise the profile of other local, Black-owned brands, too.

City of Tulsa

Researchers said Tuesday that they have now uncovered 15 more burials in an Oaklawn Cemetery mass grave since an October test excavation revealed 12 in their search for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims, bringing the total to 27 presumed sets of remains with still more "very likely" to be discovered.

"We were able to then come back today and actually initiate the process of excavation on some of the individual burials," Dr. Kary Stackelbeck, Oklahoma's state archaeologist, said during a press briefing at the Tulsa Fire Museum adjacent to the cemetery.

On today's ST, we are discussing a new book on race relations and American history that offers a bold, thorough, and eye-opening critique of our nation's criminal justice apparatus, its police operations, and indeed its entire legal system. Our guest is the well-regarded historian Elizabeth Hinton, who is an associate professor of history and African American studies at Yale University as well as a professor of law at Yale Law School.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

With the national spotlight off Tulsa following substantial media coverage of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre centennial anniversary and President Joe Biden's visit to Greenwood to commemorate it, advocates for reparations for survivors and descendants say they aren't going anywhere.

City of Tulsa

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Crews searching a Tulsa cemetery for victims of the 1921 Race Massacrefound five more coffins on Thursday, bringing to 20 the number of coffins found at a mass-grave feature there, city officials said Thursday.

Councilor Joe Deere

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor representing the district that includes much of the historic Greenwood neighborhood destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre says he believes reparations are due to the attack's survivors and descendants.

Councilor Joe Deere welcomed attendees of the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival's main event on Sunday at the Oklahoma State University - Tulsa campus to the Cherokee Nation reservation.

Oklahoma Historical Society

Updated June 3, 10:10 a.m. to reflect Councilor Kara Joy McKee's response to Greg Robinson during the meeting.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa City Councilors are set to consider a resolution Wednesday to apologize and commit to making tangible amends for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and for discriminatory policies that followed and caused further harm to north Tulsa.

That work includes setting up a process for the community to develop recommendations to aid reconciliation. 

Our guest is the Tulsa-based pianist and composer, Barron Ryan, who tells us about his new piano trio, "My Soul is Full of Troubles." Written for piano, violin, and cello -- and commissioned by Chamber Music Tulsa on the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre -- the work will have its world premiere on June 3rd at the Greenwood Cultural Center at 7pm. A second performance will be given on June 4th at noon at St. John's Episcopal Church, and this additional presentation will moreover be offered as a free Facebook livestream.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday became the first sitting president to visit Tulsa to commemorate the Tulsa Race Massacre, arguably the worst racist attack in American history.

White mobs, many deputized and armed by local officials, burned the Black community of Greenwood to the ground May 31 and June 1, 1921. They killed as many as 300 residents and took thousands more to internment camps.

Hundreds Gather To Pay Respects On Massacre Anniversary

Jun 1, 2021

On the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, light rain didn’t stop hundreds from paying their respects at a candlelight vigil.  

State Sen. Kevin Matthews, chair of the commission that organized the vigil, explained the significance of the 10:30 p.m. start time.

"10:30 was when the violence started," Matthews said. "We're going to go from 10:30 to 10:40, that first ten minutes of that terrible violence right here in the Greenwood area 100 years ago."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

According to official records, fewer than 40 people died during the Tulsa Race Massacre. But it’s believed white attackers killed as many as 300 people, with bodies dumped into mass graves and no record of what happened to them.

The Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition and the Equal Justice Initiative have collected soil throughout Greenwood to commemorate massacre victims. The final collection event took place Monday, 100 years to the day after the massacre started.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma National Guard's first Black commander apologized Monday for their role in the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Speaking at a soil collection ceremony to memorialize unknown victims of the massacre, Adjutant Gen. Michael Thompson said he's proud of the uniform he's worn for 37 years, but 100 years ago wasn't the guard's proudest day.

Thompson took a moment to regain his composure before continuing.

The White House

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation Monday honoring the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre 100 years later and vowing to work toward undoing systemic racism in the U.S.

City of Tulsa

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Several documentary filmmakers — some backed by NBA superstars — are shedding light on the historically ignored Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, one of the most horrific tragedies in American history. 

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's Office

The sponsor of a bill to create a federal commission studying reparations said she stands with those pursuing reparations for people affected by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas said H.R.40 will also help the cause in Tulsa because the commission it establishes will look not only at slavery, but also state and local practices used to brutalize and disadvantage Black Americans.

At a luncheon today, Damario Solomon-Simmons, attorney for the three living survivors, said the nonprofit Justice for Greenwood will give each survivor payments as gifts.

"I'm excited to announce that a little bitty grassroot community north side organization will be granting a gift of $100,000 for each survivor," said Solomon-Simmons.

Solomon-Simmons is the founder of Justice for Greenwood. One of the organization's primary focuses is to gain reparations for massacre survivors and descendants. 

University of Tulsa

When the smoke cleared in June 1921, the toll from the massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was catastrophic — scores of lives lost, homes and businesses burned to the ground, a thriving Black community gutted by a white mob.

The nightmare cried out for attention, as something to be investigated and memorialized, with speeches and statues and anniversary commemorations.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The Tulsa City Council announced Friday it would consider a resolution at its upcoming Wednesday meeting that would formally apologize for the past and ongoing harms caused by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and launch a process to evaluate recommendations included in a 2001 state report that included an endorsement of reparation payments. 

John Hope Franklin National Symposium

One of the preeminent scholars of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre said Thursday that reparations for survivors and descendants are undeniably necessary.

"The fact of the matter is, without a doubt, the three remaining survivors of the massacre and the descendants of any and all survivors of the massacre deserve some form of financial restitution for what happened to them and their family in 1921," historian Scott Ellsworth said near the end of an address given as part of the John Hope Franklin National Symposium.

Library of Congress (American National Red Cross Photograph Collection)

The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 injured souls, claimed lives, ruined property, and demolished an entire community. Indeed, the damage suffered by the Black citizens of Greenwood took on many forms -- and this suffering went on for decades. Is it possible even to calculate the economic loss that Greenwood endured due to this terrible tragedy, and if so, how could such a tally be arrived at? As the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre approaches, many are wondering about these questions. Our guest is Jason Long, an economic historian at Wheaton College.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A new exhibit at the Gilcrease Museum lets visitors ask virtual versions of living Tulsa Race Massacre survivors about their experiences.

StoryFile and the Terence Crutcher Foundation present "The Legacy of Survival," which uses artificial intelligence and interviews with 106-year-old Lessie Benningfield "Mother" Randle and 107-year-old Viola "Mother" Fletcher to help them share their stories. Randle and Fletcher watched Thursday as their grandchildren, LaDonna Penny and Ike Howard, tested it out with their virtual counterparts.

This story was updated at 5:28 a.m. on Friday, May 28, to add comments from Centennial Commission project director Phil Armstrong.  

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission announced late Thursday it has canceled Monday's "Remember + Rise" commemoration event.

The event was to be nationally televised from ONEOK Field, featuring award-winning musician John Legend and politician, lawyer and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.

The Greenwood Art Project had a public unveiling today as it continues to highlight artwork made in recognition of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Posters were on display at a site called "Steps to Nowhere." The area used to be a neighboorhood but is now empty. 

GAP features over 25 artists who want to add some culture to events in the coming days.

Lead artist Rick Lowe said a mix of pieces over a span of days was decided on to provoke dialogue.

The Oklahoma Senate adopted on Wednesday a four-page resolution commemorating the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Senate Resolution 24 was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat. 

"I think it’s an important truth that we as Oklahoma leaders need to acknowledge and teach so we don’t repeat history," Treat said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The White House confirmed Wednesday President Joe Biden’s Tulsa visit on Tuesday will include time in Greenwood.

Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden will deliver remarks to commemorate the Tulsa Race Massacre centennial.

"While there, he will meet with surviving members of the community, now between the ages of … 101 to 107 and tour the Greenwood Cultural Center," Jean-Pierre said.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum says he is not spending much time thinking about the international media coverage of the upcoming Tulsa Race Massacre centennial events, instead focusing on what the anniversary means for Tulsans.

"I think about this event like when you're mourning as a family when you have the death of a loved one," Bynum said in a video message released Tuesday by City Hall. "You're really just concerned about your family and your friends and your neighbors. What people on the periphery have to say about it is of less importance."

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

With mounting global attention on Tulsa and the myriad events planned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, reparations advocates have launched a phone hotline for descendants of massacre survivors and victims to call and tell their stories.

"I know there's thousands and thousands of more descendants across the world and across the nation," said DJ Mercer, descendant coordinator at the Justice For Greenwood Foundation, which opened the hotline last week.

The White House

President Joe Biden will travel to Tulsa next Tuesday, June 1, to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the White House announced.

Details on the visit were not immediately available, the White House said.

"We are grateful that President Biden will join in the centennial commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre," Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement. "His visit honors our neighbors who were killed in this city’s worst moment and the work being done to build a better Tulsa for future generations.”