1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is calling on Governor Kevin Stitt to veto a bill that would outlaw teaching topics like historic and systemic racism in a way that could cause discomfort. The commission’s project director Phil Armstrong spoke with Public Radio Tulsa's Chris Polansky about why they’re speaking out and how it may affect their currently under construction Greenwood Rising History Center.

---

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission on Sunday issued an open letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt, asking him to veto a bill passed by both chambers of the legislature that would restrict the teaching of concepts like systemic racism. 

City of Oklahoma City

A little over a month before the centennial of the attack, the City Council of Oklahoma City on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing and condemning the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, along with racial violence and ongoing ills caused by white supremacy.

The resolution, put forth by Councilwoman Nikki Nice and Councilman James Cooper, makes a connection between the white supremacy inherent in the motivations behind both the massacre and the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.

Fire In Little Africa

Oklahoma hip-hop collective Fire In Little Africa, a project of the Woody Guthrie Center, Bob Dylan Center and 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, debuted tracks from their upcoming album in a Saturday concert at Oklahoma Contemporary in Oklahoma City.

The album, scheduled for a May 28 release on Motown Records, was inspired by the history of Tulsa's Greenwood District -- "Black Wall Street" -- before, during and after the massacre.

An attorney suing the City of Tulsa for reparations has told the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission to stop using the name of 106-year-old survivor Lessie Benningfield "Mother" Randle.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission on Saturday donated $200,000 toward renovations at Vernon African Methodist Episcopal church.

Commission Chair Sen. Kevin Matthews said Vernon AME is the only structure on Greenwood that matches the plaque on the sidewalk out front that says what was there before a white mob destroyed the prosperous, Black community.

"Not only did they survive 100 years, but they survived still doing the same work; still doing the same ministry; still providing food, home, shelter and prayer to people in this area," Matthews said.

Instagram / Greenwood Art Project

A museum opening in June as an initiative of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission will feature Greenwood-inspired art created by and for children.

The Tulsa Children's Museum of Art will open on the OSU - Tulsa campus on June 1 with an exhibition called "Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the 1921 Race Massacre: Through the Eyes of Children," according to director Dr. Courtney Skipper.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

City officials and members of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation's Physical Investigation Committee said Tuesday that exhumation of remains discovered last year in a mass grave could begin as soon as June 1 -- which would be exactly 100 years since the second day of the attack.

"We haven't solidified that date exactly at this point in time, but that's what our goal is right now," said Dr. Kary Stackelbeck, state archaeologist of Oklahoma, during a virtual meeting of the investigation's public oversight committee. 

Color of Change

Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have introduced a resolution in each chamber that would recognize the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and condemn historic and ongoing systemic racism. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Public Schools will begin rolling out a new curriculum for teaching the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre beginning in May.

"We want to make sure that we are accurate, that we are engaging, that we are teaching our students to think critically and that we are offering them materials, but we also are not going to shy away from the fact that we are going to bring critical and powerful racially aware, bring a racially aware lens to this context and to this," said TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist at a Feb. 22 Board of Education meeting.

Justice For Greenwood Foundation

A New York-based international law firm has joined the legal team representing 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivors and their descendants in their lawsuit for reparations from the city of Tulsa and other parties.

Youtube / City of Norman

Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Oklahoma were noticeably impacted by two unique circumstances Monday.

"Every year, usually ... they have the marching groups. Next year, we'll be back with the walking groups, with the dancing groups," said Tulsa's MLK Day Parade emcee Rebecca Marks-Jimerson, doing color commentary for a livestream of the event. "But this year, because of the COVID, we are doing the social distancing. But we're making it happen for you."

Sen. James Lankford

Calls are mounting for Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) to resign his seat on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission after his role in sowing doubt about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma began a centennial remembrance Friday of a once-thriving African American neighborhood in Tulsa decimated by deadly white violence that has received growing recognition during America’s reckoning over police brutality and racial violence.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

While the city of Tulsa's search for the remains of victims from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has been celebrated by many, some members of the investigation's public oversight committee are questioning the pace and focus of the endeavor.

At a Dec. 17 meeting held virtually, members of the efforts' physical investigation committee gave a presentation on their findings so far, including the discovery of a mass grave at a site in Oaklawn Cemetery where victims are said to have been buried following the racist attack. 

Courtesy

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission has received a $1 million grant toward the Greenwood Rising commemorative center from Bank of America.

A portion of the grant is for construction costs, while the rest will go to related initiatives.

"We're going to help with educational programming, entrepreneurial programming, supplier diversity initiatives, I mean, anything and everything we can do to ultimately help bring this community back to where it originally was," said Bank of America Tulsa Market President Bill Lissau.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — One set of human remains, and perhaps a second, have been found in a Tulsa cemetery where investigators are searching for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said Tuesday.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Excavation work began Monday at two locations in a Tulsa cemetery for victims of a race massacre nearly 100 years ago that left hundreds dead and decimated an area that was once a cultural and economic mecca for African Americans.

Researchers took a core soil sample at one location to give them a better idea of what lies beneath the soil, said Oklahoma State Archeologist Kary Stackelbeck.

City of Tulsa

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A second excavation begins Monday at a cemetery in an effort to find and identify victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and shed light on violence that left hundreds dead and decimated an area that was once a cultural and economic mecca for African Americans.

Courtesy City of Tulsa

After an initial excavation in July yielded no human remains, researchers searching for mass graves of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims have announced they plan to begin digging elsewhere in Oaklawn Cemetery as soon as next month.

"The date for this work has yet to be scheduled, but the City of Tulsa will announce the date when confirmed," according to a statement from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee.

We're pleased to welcome the Tulsa-based attorney, historian, and author Hannibal B. Johnson back to StudioTulsa. An active and well-respected expert on matters of diversity, inclusion, and social justice, Johnson is also the education chair for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission. He joins us to discuss his newest book, "Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma." As was noted of this volume by Dr.

Brooke Allen

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission hosted a groundbreaking on Firday for the long-awaited Greenwood Rising History Center.

Tracy Gibbs, a descendant of the late survivor Ernestine Gibbs, said it’s good to see work begin, but the real groundbreaking started almost 100 years ago.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The researchers conducting a test excavation at Tulsa's Oaklawn Cemetery, in search of a possible mass grave containing victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, have concluded that such a grave does not exist in the exact spot they investigated.

Facebook / City of Tulsa Gov

A team of archaelogists has resumed excavation work at Oaklawn Cemetery in a search for potential mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

"Why did it take 99 years?" Mayor G.T. Bynum said, repeating a reporter's question at a press conference Monday. "I think, first, there was a concerted cover-up of this that involved city leaders and business leaders in this community."

Bynum said he couldn't speak for those in power before him.

Oklahoma Archaeological Survey

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulsa will resume test excavations of potential unmarked graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre after the effort was halted in March because of the coronavirus outbreak, city officials announced.

University of Tulsa

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission hosted a virtual commemoration Sunday of the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

On June 1, 1921, a white mob continued looting and burning Black Wall Street. The attack destroyed 35 city blocks, and the death toll is still unknown.

They were joined by Damon Lindelof, creator of the HBO series "Watchmen," which opens with the race massacre. As the character Will Reeves says, Lindelof said wounds need air.

Instagram / @TulsaTriumphs2021

A free webinar series beginning Wednesday aims to help Oklahoma teachers craft curricula and lesson plans for effectively teaching the history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Dr. Karlos Hill, chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the head of the Tulsa Race Massacre Institute, said that while the pandemic dashed plans for a third-annual, in-person program in Tulsa's Greenwood District, the limitation of moving programming online may also be an opportunity.

Courtesy

A history center being built by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission has a new home.

After talks to build the Greenwood Rising History Center on the grounds of the Greenwood Cultural Center fell through earlier this month, the Centennial Commission announced Tuesday it will now go up on the southeast corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street, the gateway to the Greenwood District.