Tulsa Race Massacre

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Public Schools is rolling out a new curriculum this month to commemorate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre centennial.

Tulsa teachers and the Greenwood Cultural Center developed the new lesson plans, which will be taught in grades three through 12 now and in all grades starting next school year.

TPS Deputy Chief of Academics Danielle Neves said state academic standards adopted in 2002 require the massacre be taught only in high school state and U.S. history classes.

City of Tulsa

A city official said Thursday that Tulsa is on track to begin an exhumation on June 1st of remains discovered in a mass grave at Oaklawn Cemetery last year in a continued search for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Deputy Mayor Amy Brown made the remarks during a Thursday evening meeting of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee, held virtually. 

Brown said the city was in the process of reviewing nine bids from vendors who submitted proposals to assist in archaeological work on the dig. 

We're pleased to welcome Quraysh Ali Lansana back to StudioTulsa; the writer, poet, educator, and Tulsa Artist Fellow joins us to discuss his newest book. That volume, "Opal's Greenwood Oasis," is a children's book for which he is the co-author. Aimed at elementary-school readers, the book profiles one Opal Brown, who takes her very first "on her own" bike ride throughout her home neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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.


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.