Man honored at anniversary of Tulsa Race Riots

Posted at 5:39 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2019-12-17 14:09:17-05

TULSA - Community leaders and police gathered at the Greenwood Cultural Center Tuesday to show unity and bring home a special picture of a man who made a difference during the Tulsa Race Riots.  

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan presented the cultural center with a portrait of Tulsa's first black officer, which he bought at a Tulsa fairgrounds antique show.

"A retired corporal called me and said 'chief, there is a picture of Tulsa's first black police officer, Barney Cleaver, out here.' And I went out there, and sure enough, there was."  

Chief Jordan researched Officer Cleaver and discovered he played a special role during a terrible time in the city's history, testifying against the police chief.

"He was here during the riots, he was with the sheriff's office during the riots. He testified against Gustafson. I think that makes him a main player in the whole Greenwood experience."

Senator James Lankford also worked to share the history of the Tulsa Race Riot.

"In five years, the whole country's going to ask - what have we learned as a nation? What's different?"

Soon, Officer Cleaver's portrait will hang in all Tulsa police divisions, and in the heart of the Greenwood District.

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