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1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Curriculum To Be Taught Statewide

Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-21 18:58:46-05

TULSA, Okla. — The 1921 Race Massacre curriculum announced Wednesday will be taught statewide.

The new curriculum aims to give teachers the resources they need to share important lessons from the past.

"I knew a little bit on my own, but I didn't know anything taught by another teacher," Lila Star said.

Hailey Knauls added, "I went to a middle school where we kind of talked about it a little bit, but not a lot like the way we talked about it in this class."

Lila Star and Hailey Knauls are 11th grade students with two very different outlooks on the 1921 Tulsa's Race Massacre.

"Mobs came into the Black Wall Street part of Tulsa and mobbed everyone," Star said. "Many houses and businesses were set on fire because of false accusations with an African American boy and a Caucasian girl."

Both had very little understanding of what happened in Tulsa nearly 100 years ago. But now a curriculum has been created, helping students and teachers understand the history many have forgotten.

"I didn't learn about the Tulsa 1921 race massacre until I was out of high school," said Joe Nelson, an 11th grade English teacher. "It wasn't until I was about 19 years old. A friend who went to school here in Tulsa mentioned it."

Nelson began introducing the information using videos, diaries and articles from that time period.

"I didn't try to hide it. I didn't try to make it a fully academic subject," Nelson said. "But I tried to acknowledge myself as well. We all bring an experience. We have these conversations. We need to respect that."

Both Star and Knauls have a changed perspective because of it.

"I just think we should have the opportunity to learn more about it," Knauls said. "So many students can feel comfortable and speak about how they feel."

Star added, "History always repeated itself, so I think refocusing and reteaching that curriculum can kind of shift Tulsa's collective memory of that," she said. "From a very blurry hidden memory to something we can remember and acknowledge."

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