Greenwood

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa on Tuesday officially launched a 12-month process to plan the redevelopment of publicly owned land in north Tulsa — land taken from Black and Native communities over the past 100 years.

The city, Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity and Tulsa Development Authority chose Philadelphia-based architecture firm Wallace Robert and Todd to lead the Kirkpatrick Heights/Greenwood Master Plan. Several local firms and an 11-member leadership committee have been tasked with making sure the plan aligns with the community's wishes.

Our guest is Carlos Moreno, a Tulsa-based graphic designer, researcher, and freelance writer who originally hails from California, and who's been living and working in Tulsa since the 1990s. Moreno joins us to discuss his new book, "The Victory of Greenwood." This volume presents a novel and engrossing history of Tulsa's Greenwood community by offering more than 20 different biographical portraits of such key "Black Wall Street" figures as John and Loula Williams, B.C. Franklin, the Rev. Ben H. Hill, Edwin McCabe, George Monroe, and various others.

Greenwood Chamber of Commece

I-244's detrimental impacts on the Greenwood District have become a topic of discussion.

A report recently identified the highway built through the heart of Greenwood the 1970s as one of several across the U.S. to tear down, and the Tulsa’s Young Professionals Urbanist Crew has now put forth a proposal on how to do that.

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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.

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. 

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.

Chris Polansky / KWGS

Updated 3:07 p.m. to correct the pool reporter's quote attributed to President Joe Biden.  

President Joe Biden toured Greenwood Cultural Center and met with the living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre after arriving in Tulsa early Tuesday afternoon.

Greenwood Cultural Center Program Director Mechelle Brown-Burdex led Biden on the tour, showing him the history of "the most successful, prosperous Black-owned business district in the country."

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.

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.

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 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.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A new smartphone app is helping bring to life the Greenwood that existed before the Tulsa Race Massacre.

The Greenwood Rising XR app leads users on a 10-stop, 45-minute tour of Greenwood Avenue between Archer Street and I-244. It uses video, audio and extended reality graphics to show what used to be there in present-day surroundings. Developer KJ Jackson demonstrated the app Monday from the west side of Greenwood Avenue in front of the charred bricks in the Bryant Building. 

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.

Race Massacre Symposium Speakers Say Reckoning Is Overdue

May 21, 2021

At a law symposium held today to commemorate Tulsa's 1921 Race Massacre, speakers called for examination and reparations.

Reverend Dr. Robert Turner criticized the idea that governments in the United States can't be criminally charged. Turner was reacting to the recently given opinion of former Tulsa judge Robert William Kellough.

Kellough was asked by a committee investigating possible massacre gravesites to give a legal opinion on whether or not entities like the city of Tulsa could be held criminally responsible for supporting the murders in Greenwood. 

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Greenwood Cultural Center and Gathering Place are now hosting exhibits from one of the world’s foremost Black art and history collections.

Bernard and Shirley Kinsey started the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection in an effort to help their son, Khalil, learn Black history he wasn’t being taught in school — and that they couldn’t fill the gaps in, either. The collection of more than 700 artifacts dates back to the 16th Century and shows thriving, successful Black cultures existed around the globe before many were forced to integrate into other societies.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Public Schools unveiled on Thursday a public art installation honoring Greenwood.

"A Stroll In Greenwood" is an 800-foot, printed vinyl mural hung inside Carver Middle School’s football stadium. The work is a collaboration by Kansas City’s Donald Ross "Scribe" and Tulsa’s Chris "Sker" Rogers, a Carver alum. They also created the Black Wall Street mural at the Greenwood Cultural Center.

Rogers said "A Stroll In Greenwood" shows the district from its prosperous heyday to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, but it doesn’t stop there.

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.

Aaron Pruzaniec / Licensed under CC 2.0

A new proposal would see the City of Tulsa repurpose $4 million in COVID-19 relief funds for a program to help historically marginalized entrepreneurs.

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.

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.

A Texas group that advocates for Black Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights plans to hold an armed demonstration in Tulsa just before the race massacre centennial.

Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt Gun Club founder Nick Bezzel said he’s hoping for 1,000 legally armed Black people to participate in a May 29 remembrance walk for Greenwood, the prosperous community known as Black Wall Street that a white mob destroyed on May 31 and June 1, 1921.

Bezzel said their goal is not violence, but to send a message that a similar attack will never happen again.

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. 

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we listen back our discussion from 1997 with the bestselling author and educator Jewell Parker Rhodes. At that time, we spoke with Rhodes about her then-new novel, "Magic City." This book was among the first works of published fiction to depict the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. A memorable and well-crafted novel of racism, vigilantism, and injustice, "Magic City" is now appearing in a new edition that includes a recently-composed afterword from by author.

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Tulsa’s pro soccer team will wear patches celebrating Greenwood’s history and future this season.

FC Tulsa announced Tuesday all its 2021 jerseys will feature the brand for Greenwood Ave., a project local artist Trey Thaxton created to highlight hundreds of Black Wall Street businesses. He redesigns early 20th Century businesses' signs and logos for apparel and art.

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.

Tulsa Opera has removed a composer from its upcoming "Greenwood Overcomes" concert commemorating the Tulsa Race Massacre over a disagreement about the ending of his original piece.

The concert features Black composers and singers. Daniel Roumain wrote "They Still Want To Kill Us" for mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. It's a telling of the events of the massacre and his perspective of it, ending with the lines, "God bless America. God damn America."

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.

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