Renewed Calls For Restitution
An extensive curriculum on the event was provided to Oklahoma school districts in 2020.
On May 29, 2020, the eve of the 99th anniversary of the event and the onset of the George Floyd protests, Human Rights Watch released a report titled “The Case for Reparations in Tulsa, Oklahoma: A Human Rights Argument”, demanding reparations for survivors and descendants of the violence because the economic impact of the massacre is still visible as illustrated by the high poverty rates and lower life expectancies in north Tulsa. Several documentary projects were also announced at this time with plans to release them on the 100th anniversary of the event, including Black Wall Street by Dream Hampton, and another documentary by Salima Koroma. In September 2020, a 105-year old survivor of the massacre filed a lawsuit against the city for reparations caused by damages to the city’s Black businesses. In 2021, Oklahoma librarians were finally able to get the Library of Congress to change the official subject headings, which place limits on the terms which people are allowed to use whenever they conduct searches for some of the information, for the event from “riot” to “massacre.”
Years After Tulsa Race Massacre A New Museum Honors Black Wall Street
By Zac Thompson
04/12/2021, 3:00 PM
A horrific episode in U.S. history is finally receiving proper commemoration, a century after the atrocity took place.
In the early 20th century, a high concentration of thriving African American businesses made the area “the most prosperous Black community in the nation,” according to Smithsonian magazine.
Then, on May 31 and June 1, 1921, white mobs descended on Greenwood in a frenzy of violence, killing as many as 300 people, injuring thousands more, and turning 35 square blocks of America’s heartland into a smoking crater.
Designed by Local Projects in collaboration with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, Greenwood Rising places the violence within the context of the neighborhood’s origins and development as well as its subsequent rebuilding.
The trauma of Tulsa was absent from history books for decades. Organizers intend for the new facility to be a site of preservation, racial reconciliation, and justice.
After a brief introductory film, visitors will move through three galleries that use projections, special effects, photos, and videos to tell the story of Greenwood before, during, and after the 1921 massacre.
Visit Tulsa2021.org for more info.
Fulton Street Books & Coffee
Fulton Street Books and Coffee is a literary haven where everyone is welcome. The emphasis is on amplifying the voices of people of color and marginalized communities in Tulsa and across the globe. To that end, most of the books on the shelves of the inviting space are by BIPOC authors or those from other historically marginalized communities. Titles run the gamut from local history and nonfiction to novels, comedy, and childrens books. Readers hungry for more than enlightening words can sit and sip a cappuccino or grab a pastry in the attached cafe.
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Search For Mass Graves
The Tulsa Race Massacre Commission arranged for archaeological, non-invasive ground surveys of Newblock Park, Oaklawn Cemetery, and Booker T. Washington Cemetery, which were identified as possible locations for mass graves of Black victims of the violence. Oral histories, other sources and timing suggested that whites would have buried Blacks at the first two locations Black people were said to have buried Black victims at the third location after the riot was over. The people who were buried at Washington Cemetery, which is reserved for Black people, were probably thought to be those victims who had died of their wounds after the riot had ended, since it was the most distant suspected burial location from downtown.
Welcome To The National Museum Of African American History And Cultures Tulsa Collection Online
In late May 1921, the thriving African American community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, suffered the deadliest racial massacre in U.S. history. It was one in a series of actions of racist violence that convulsed the United States in towns and cities beginning with the period of Reconstruction in the late 19th century. In Tulsa, as in all of these massacres, white mobs destroyed Black communities, property, and lives. A century after the riot, the people of Tulsa and the nation continue to struggle to reckon with the massacres multiple legacies.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture collects materials to help fill the silences in our nations memory around events such as the Tulsa Race Massacre and its reverberations, preserving and sharing wider stories of Black communities in Oklahoma, and centering the testimonies of survivors and their descendants.
“Riot pennies” charred during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Owned by George Monroe.
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Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission
Greenwood Rising is the legacy project of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. The Commission began in 2015 under the leadership of Senator Kevin Mathews dedicated to a vision of a stronger and more just Tulsa. The Centennial Commission reached out to and included key Greenwood District organizationsThe Greenwood Cultural Center, the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, and the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliationas well as numerous other Greenwood leaders and community members to unite the Greenwood District to outline projects which would commemorate history, tell the whole Greenwood story and create opportunity.
Centennial Commission Members collectively identified five key areas of focus: education arts and culture cultural tourism commemoration and economic development. These focus areas were chosen believing the first step in the process of reconciliation is knowledge and acknowledgment of the past. The team of over 30 people traveled to Montgomery to visit other examples of social justice institutions and met for months to determine the Commissions defining work. The Centennial Commission then as a group developed a list of projects to be completed by 2021 that would meet the core purpose of truth-telling, educate the world about the history of Greenwood, and spur entrepreneurial opportunities.
Greenwood: Tulsa’s Black Wall Street
At the time of the massacre, Greenwood was considered by many to be the wealthiest Black enclave in the nation. As the seven photos above show, it wasn’t uncommon to see its residents stylishly dressed. Some boasted new luxury motorcars.
The incident began on the morning of May 30, 1921, after a young Black man named Dick Rowland, who worked shining shoes, rode the elevator of Tulsa’s Drexel building to use one of the few available segregated public restrooms downtown. After the female elevator operator screamed, Rowland fled the elevator and rumors quickly spread of an alleged sexual assault. The next day, he was arrested, leading to an armed confrontation outside the courthouse between a growing white crowd and Black men hoping to defend Rowland from being lynched. As things became heated and shots were fired, the vastly outnumbered African Americans retreated to the Greenwood district. The white group followed, and as the night unfolded, violence exploded.
Throughout that night and into June 1, much of Greenwood became enveloped in billowing dark smoke, as members of the mob went from house to house and store to store, looting and then torching buildings. Fleeing residents were sometimes shot down in the streets. Many survivors report low-flying planes, some raining down bullets or inflammables.
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The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
Visitors immediately step into the cacophony of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Projected onto multiple surfaces, environmental motion graphics immerse visitors in the destruction and violence of the night, while they listen to the recorded memories of survivors.
The backsides of the projection surfaces offer insight into the experiences of different community members like the African Blood Brotherhood and white witnesses.
Ss Jones Home Movies Collection
This video features survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre recalling their experiences on that day and after. Included are Olivia Hooker, Eldoris McCondichie, Jimmie Lily Franklin, Eunice Jackson, Clyde Eddy, and John Hope Franklin. The voices of survivors bearing witness to this history have pushed the city and the nation toward a more truthful understanding of the past. Their act of bearing witness is an indispensable element of justice and reconciliation.
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You Heard The Stories Saw The News Reports And Watched The Documentaries Now Experience Historic Greenwood Firsthand With An Authentic Guided Tour That’s Custom
Thank you Terry, a great way to spend the morning! Appreciated your unique insights and bringing things to life. Would have never gotten that out of a book! Thanks again.
Terrys passion for Greenwood was felt by all of us. Thank you Terry for sharing your experiences and memories of this horrendous event that occurred in Greenwood. Thank you.
The museum was good. I liked the tour better. The museum didn’t rally give me a feel for the neighborhood . I’m glad I went to both though.
$25.00 per person
Accusation Of Sexual Assault Ignites Riots
But the heightened racial animosity in Tulsa erupted in 1921 when 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a Black shoe shiner was accused of attempted sexual assault of a 17-year-old white elevator operator named Sarah Page. When an angry white mob went to the courthouse to demand that the sheriff hand over Rowland, the sheriff refused. A group of about 25 armed Black menincluding many World War I veteransthen went to the courthouse to offer help guarding Rowland.
As word of a possible lynching spread, a group of around 75 armed Black men returned to the courthouse, where they were met by some 1,500 whites. After clashes between the groups, the Black men retreated to Greenwood.
Mobs of armed, white men then descended on Greenwood, looting homes, burning down businesses and shooting Black residents dead on the spot.
With millions in property damage and no help from the city, the rebuilding of Greenwood began almost immediately, thanks to the assistance of the NAACP, other Black townships in Oklahoma, donations from Black churches and a resilient Greenwood community. However, some businesses like the Tulsa Star newspaper were permanently shuttered in the wake of the violence.
The Greenwood District still exists today but after decades of urban renewal and integration the areas demographics and businesses resemble little of its storied past.
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Section : Black Wall Street
Williams family image provided by the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum. More information on the Williams family in section 2.
The entrepreneurial spirit and success of the Williams family embodies the character of Black Wall Streets thriving, independent community. Like many other Black individuals and families, John and Loula Williams moved to Tulsa not only to escape racism but to live where their business ventures and enterprises could prosper.
Segregation made Black Wall Streets insular economy a necessity. This necessity, however, coupled with the vision among Greenwoods residents to create a self-sufficient district, made Black Wall Street one of the most successful and affluent Black communities in U.S. history.
Occupations Of Greenwood Residents
Segregation kept African-Americans from patronizing white-owned shops, and Greenwood thrived from community support of Black-owned businesses.
Black folks faced an economic detour, said Hannibal B. Johnson, an author and the education chair for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. When they approached the gates to the wider Tulsa economy, they were turned away, so they ended up creating their own largely insular community.
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What Is The History Center’s Mission
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is now recognized as one of the worst acts of racial violence in American history, but it was covered up for decades and omitted from history books. Between May 31 and June 1, 1921, mobs of white residents attacked, set aflame and ultimately destroyed the Greenwood District, which was at that time one of the wealthiest Black communities in the United States, earning it the name “Black Wall Street.”
With its mission to enlighten, educate and inform, Armstrong said Greenwood Rising will help ensure the horrors of the massacre are never forgotten again.
He said Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, has been a resource and friend as the commission has developed Greenwood Rising.
“The state and the citizens are highly reflective of what happened 26 years ago, when hate and hate speech and misunderstanding and unchecked emotions led to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building,” Armstrong said. “Even though it was 100 years ago, we have the same obligation to come together as Oklahomans and say, ‘This affected all of us, it destroyed a Black community, and we’re acknowledging that and we’re rallying around it.'”
One of Greenwood Rising’s goals will be to emulate the Oklahoma City National Memorial’s field trip program, which brings students from all over the state to the downtown OKC landmark. Like the bombing, Armstrong said the Tulsa Race Massacre had a statewide impact.
Arc Of Oppression + Emotional Exit
The Arc of Oppression section begins with a content warning that supports visitors with information around recognizing triggers and coping with historical racial trauma. Visitors may enter an emotional exit corridor that bypasses potentially triggering content while providing key historical information, or progress into the Systems of Anti-Blackness space.
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Newly Opened Black Wall Street History Center In Greenwood Reminds The World Of The Case For Reparations
|Listen to this article here|
An image of the Greenwood Rising Black Wall Street History Center.
More people are learning about the triumphs and tragedy of Tulsas Greenwood District after the Greenwood Rising Black Wall Street History Center held its grand opening on Wednesday, August 4.
Drawing visitors from across the nation, the new history center captures the entrepreneurial spirit of Black Wall Streets founders pre-statehood, with rooms dedicated to those pioneering Black businesses, such as: Latimers BBQ, Williams Dreamland Theatre, and Stradford Hotel.
Introduction & Content Warning
The Arc of Oppression section begins with a content warning that supports visitors with information around recognizing triggers and coping with historical racial trauma.
Visitors may enter an emotional exit corridor that bypasses potentially triggering content while providing key historical information, or progress into the Systems of Anti-Blackness space.
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Black Wall Street Tour Info
Heres how to tour Greenwood:
Visit the free Greenwood Rising Black Wall Street History Museum. Youll need to make a reservation to visit.
Take a free guided tour with the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Center.
Or contact Terry, the mayor of Greenwood for a guided tour with his company.
We at Tulsa Tours no longer host standalone Black Wall Street tours. For special occasions, our private Art Deco & Greenwood Tour begins in the Deco District and ends at Greenwood Av.
The Museum Is Free For The Public To Visit
A brand new museum commemorating the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 is officially open in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Greenwood Rising, which is dedicated to educating the public about the Tulsa Race Massacre that happened 100 years ago in the Greenwood District, opened its doors last week on Aug. 4. The new museum utilizes history, technology, and interactive design to open a dialogue of challenging conversations about the tragedy while also discussing Black history and the heritage of historically Black North Tulsa and the Greenwood District specifically.
Back before the events that occurred in 1921, the Greenwood District was an affluent African-American community with a thriving business district known as “Black Wall Street.” White rioters burned and looted the area between May 31 and June 1, 1921 and historians estimate about 300 people were killed, over 800 were treated for injuries, and thousands were left homeless, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.
Greenwood Rising teamed up with design firm Local Projects to create this immersive space. In addition to the exhibitions, the museum also displays certain historic artifacts, including two unpublished manuscripts from non-Black witnesses of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a Coke machine and barber chair from Eaton’s Barbershop and a meeting place for planned demonstrations in Tulsa during the Civil Rights era), the personal bible and other memorabilia from the late Reverend Ben Hill, and more.
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Tulsa’s ‘black Wall Street’ Flourished As A Self
Greenwood Avenue featured luxury shops, restaurants, movie theaters, a library, pool halls and nightclubs.
Before the Tulsa Race Massacre where the citys Black district of Greenwood was attacked by a white mob, resulting in two days of bloodshed and destruction, the area had been considered one of the most affluent African American communities in the United States for the early part of the 20th century.
The massacre, which began on May 31, 1921 and left hundreds of Black residents dead and 1,000 houses destroyed, often overshadows the history of the venerable Black enclave itself. Greenwood District, with a population of 10,000 at the time, had thrived as the epicenter of African American business and culture, particularly on bustling Greenwood Avenue, commonly known as Black Wall Street.
READ MORE: How the Tulsa Race Massacre Was Covered Up
Tulsa Race Massacre And Greenwood Rising
In 1921, Greenwood thrived from Oklahomas oil boom just like many towns across the state, but because of the states segregation laws, Greenwood was an all-black Black community just minutes from downtown Tulsa. Its 11,000 residents supported two newspapers, grocery stores, movie houses, drug stores, public schools, a library, post office, churches, hotels, banks, restaurants, barbershops, beauty parlors, flower shops, womens clubs, and offices for doctors, dentists, lawyers, realtors, and entrepreneurs.
It was one of the countrys wealthiest Black neighborhoods, so prosperous that educator Booker T. Washington called it the Black Wall Street of America.
In contrast to the persecution and lynching that plagued the Jim Crow South, Greenwood was a place where Blacks could feel safe and flourish.
But on May 31, 1921, after a Black teenager was accused of molesting a white teenage elevator operator, a white mob gathered outside the courthouse where he was being held, inflamed by an article in the Tulsa Tribune that claimed the girl had been assaulted.
Talk of a lynching brought armed Blacks, many of them World War I veterans, to defend him.
A confrontation ensued, and by evening a white mob descended on Greenwood, propelled by rumor, envy and hate. They looted, killed, and set fire to everything in sight.
Thirty-five Greenwood blocks were destroyed, including 1,256 homes and most of the communitys businesses and churches.
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