1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission

Greenwood Rising Finally Opens Its Doors To The Public

Aug 4, 2021

After some delays, Greenwood Rising, a history center dedicated to educating visitors on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, had its grand opening for the public today. 


Phil Armstrong is the project director. 


“Today is really just allowing for the public to finally see what six years of planning looks like.”


Our guest is the highly regarded American conductor and music director, David Robertson.  He'll be holding the baton at the BOK Center this weekend, as the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra joins forces with Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and a festival choir to perform All Rise (Symphony No. 1), an epic blues suite composed by Marsalis that will take place Sunday, June 6th, at 3pm.

Greenwood Rising History Center Opens

Jun 3, 2021


Yesterday marked the opening of the Greenwood Rising History Center.


The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission earmarked $20 million for the project, and its purpose is to educate visitors about the massacre.


The building has not been uncontroversial. Some public officials say they oppose the way the money was spent.


Phil Armstrong is the chair of the commission. He spoke at the opening ceremony to a crowd seated in folding chairs at the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A conference in Tulsa on Tuesday sought to bring attention to the racial wealth gap.

Economic Empowerment Day is part of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission’s slate of events. Project Director Phil Armstrong said the conference brought together Black executives and business leaders from around the country.

"It would be great for African Americans to see that Black excellence was not just in Greenwood in 1921, but that people today can see that Black excellence has always been here," Armstrong said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

As Tulsa commemorates the centennial of a white mob's 1921 attack that leveled the prosperous Black community of Greenwood and killed as many as 300 residents, there's another historical wrong to discuss: an interstate cutting through the district.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and Greenwood leaders dedicated the "Pathway to Hope" Friday evening. The pedestrian walkway connects Greenwood and Elgin avenues behind ONEOK Field. It was built along the south side of I-244 on an area that was mostly unused.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The chair of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission said demands from living survivors’ attorneys played into the cancellation of the "Remember and Rise" event.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, State Sen. Kevin Matthews said the survivors’ legal representation approached the commission about including them in the nationally televised event. Thus far, they have distanced themselves from commission.

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.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

With dignitaries, massacre survivors, international media and others converging on Tulsa for the May 31 centennial anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, researchers and city officials are preparing for more than just remembrances.

The city on Monday released new details regarding the exhumation of remains discovered last year in a mass grave in Oaklawn Cemetery.

On this edition of ST, we are discussing a book that first appeared as a small, privately-printed volume back in 1923 -- it's an extremely important, frequently cited, and quite special book in that it offers a rare, first-hand account of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Written by one Mary Parrish, a journalist and teacher, the book is "The Nation Must Awake: My Witness to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921." In the opening pages of the text, we learn that Parrish was reading in her home in Tulsa's Greenwood neighborhood when the massacre began on the evening of May 31, 1921.

We're pleased to speak once again with the University of Michigan-based historian and bestselling author, Scott Ellsworth, whose books include "The Secret Game," "The World Beneath Their Feet," and "Death in a Promised Land," the last-named being his account of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a pioneering text which first appeared in the 1980s. Originally from Tulsa, Ellsworth has just published an all-important follow-up to "Death in a Promised Land," which he tells us about.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission announced Wednesday morning that voting rights advocate, politician and author Stacey Abrams will be the keynote speaker at its May 31 "Remember & Rise" event at ONEOK Field.

Local Historian Speaks About Greenwood's History

May 18, 2021

A local historian gave a lesson to the Tulsa Regional Chamber about the history of Greenwood this morning.

Hannibal Johnson is the chair of the education committee for the Race Massacre Centennial Commission and the author of Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma. Johnson spoke about misconceptions he hears about Greenwood.

One is that Greenwood disappeared after the massacre.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Addressing a meeting of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee held virtually Monday afternoon, a retired Tulsa County presiding judge said he thought it was unlikely that criminal charges could be brought against governmental entity like the city of Tulsa, Tulsa County or the state of Oklahoma -- though civil cases may succeed.

Our guest is Karlos K. Hill, Associate Professor and Chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He joins us to discuss his unsettling and comprehensive new book, "The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History." It's a vast gathering of photographs that were taken before, during, and after the massacre, mostly by white photographers.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission has made a lot of headlines recently.

The commission's relationship with Gov. Kevin Stitt came to a head at the end of last week. The commission removed Stitt as a member after he declined to address them in the wake of signing a bill dictating how race-related concepts are taught in schools.

The commission had urged Stitt to veto the bill, calling it "diametrically opposed" to their mission. Stitt’s office described his role on the commission as "purely ceremonial."

Stitt Booted From Tulsa Race Massacre Commission

May 14, 2021

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The commission formed to observe the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre announced Friday that it had booted Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt from his seat on the panel a week after he signed a bill outlawing the teaching of some race and racism concepts in public schools.

Eric Williams / Courtesy John Legend

Recording artist John Legend will perform at ONEOK Field as part of a nationally televised remembrance ceremony marking the centennial anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, organizers announced Friday morning.

Illustration by Marlin Lavanhar (via The Black Wall Street Times)

On this edition of ST, we're pleased to speak with Marlin Lavanhar, a Unitarian Universalist minister who's been based at All Souls Church here in Tulsa since 2000. A longtime social justice activist and tireless human rights advocate, Lavanhar recently launched a series of editorial cartoons focused on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre -- and on the urgent need for reparations to be conveyed to those directly affected by this vast, tragic, century-old crime.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission has told Gov. Kevin Stitt it will consider him to have resigned as a member if he doesn’t respond to their invitation to discuss his signing of a bill Republicans have pushed as a ban on teaching critical race theory. 

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.