Tulsa Race Massacre

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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.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An attorney who has sued the city of Tulsa for reparations for victims and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has filed a lawsuit for the release of records related to the massacre and the coming centennial of the attack.

The records request was made in January for documents that include references to the 1921 massacre and internment camps where Blacks were held following the massacre, and records referencing the Black Tulsa community between 1908-1921, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in state court by Tulsa attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons.

Philbrook Museum of Art

Acclaimed documentary director, editor, and producer Sam Pollard joins us to talk about his recent films Black Art: In the Absence of Light, MLK/FBI, and his storied career. From serving as Spike Lee's longtime editor (Jungle Fever, Clockers, 4 Little Girls) to directing one of the earliest films on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre (Goin' Back to T-Town, 1993), Pollard has made an indelible impact by telling Black stories through film. 

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. 

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."

Tulsa Area United Way and YWCA Tulsa have joined in a Buy Black Tulsa campaign launched last month.

Fulton Street Books owner Onikah Asamoa-Ceasar originally planned it as a month-long campaign, but it’s now grown and Tulsa Area United Way is distributing a printed directory of Black-owned businesses. The nonprofit has nearly 1,000 business partners and more than 25,000 regional donors.

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. 

Philbook Museum of Art

TheRese Aduni has been hard at work on her documentary, "Rebuilding Black Wall Street." The film uses 16mm film footage shot by TheRese's father and chronicles the men and women who rebuilt Greenwood in the aftermath of 1921. This episode also features artist William Cordova, one of the Greenwood Art Project's two lead artists. Co-hosted by GAP Project Director, Jerica Wortham.

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.

Brian Nutt / City of Tulsa

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A committee overseeing the search for mass graves related to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has delayed until next month a decision on how to reinter the remains of possible victims found last year.

The state of Oklahoma requires a reinterment plan before the graves are exhumed, and a plan is needed by the end of March to ensure the academic experts needed to study the remains are available this year, forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield told the 1921 Race Massacre Graves Public Oversight Committee on Tuesday.

WGBH Boston

Our guest on ST is the documentary filmmaker, Sam Pollard, who directed "Goin' Back to T-Town." This remarkable film, which dates from the early 1990s, tells the then-nearly-forgotten-but-now-familiar story of Greenwood, the "Black Wall Street" neighborhood in Tulsa which prospered during the early 20th century, and which was all but erased in 1921 by one of the worst race-driven massacres in U.S. history. "Goin' Back to T-Town" will be shown next week (on Monday the 8th) on PBS television.

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.

City of Tulsa

The committee overseeing the investigation searching for mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre met virtually Thursday to discuss their options regarding potential exhumation of remains found in Oaklawn Cemetery last year.

In a presentation to committee members, Tulsa Deputy Mayor Amy Brown said that to proceed with an exhumation, the city would need to receive approval from the Oklahoma State Department of Health on a plan for reinterment of any human remains.

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 City of Tulsa

Researchers searching Oaklawn Cemetery for remains of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre are pursuing legal approval to exhume and study bodies discovered in their October dig, which revealed a mass grave.

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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.

City of Tulsa

Researchers looking for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Oaklawn Cemetery have concluded their work for now.

State Archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said Thursday on the final day of digging, they found evidence of another burial, so there are at least 12 the team now knows of.

They also figured out the north, south and west boundaries of the larger grave shaft they’re working in. Stackelbeck said the trench they dug appears to cover about one-third of it.

City of Tulsa

Researchers at Oaklawn Cemetery made a big discovery Wednesday, the third day of their second round of searching for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

"What we were finding was an indication that we were inside a large area, a big excavation area, a large hole that had been excavated and into which several individuals have been placed inside of coffins and buried in that location. This constitutes a mass grave," said State Archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck.

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.

City of Tulsa

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A second search for the remains of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre will begin on Oct. 19, the city said Tuesday.

Excavation will take place in two sections of Oaklawn Cemetery, where two other areas were searched during the summer, with no victim remains found.

The next areas to be searched are one where a boy said he saw Black people being buried shortly after the massacre and another where old funeral home records indicate that 18 Black people were buried.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Several predominately white Tulsa churches have painted "Black Lives Matter" messages on their properties.

At least four churches painted their messages Wednesday, four years to the day after a white Tulsa police officer shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man. More are expected to paint "Black Lives Matter" on their properties in the coming days.

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.

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