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Tulsans commemorate 103rd anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre

Posted at 3:28 PM, May 31, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa community is remembering 103 years since the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. For people in the historic Greenwood District, the anniversary represents the horrors of that day but also the resilience of the community.

“It’s the most horrendous act of civil disobedience in America’s history,” said Reuben Gant.

Gant is the executive director of the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. Their mission is to represent their namesake John Hope Franklin.

“His ambition, desire, aspiration was to weave into the fabric of America’s history enough of the presence of blacks so that the history of the United States can be told adequately and fairly and that drives us,” said Gant.

Franklin’s family was instrumental in helping black business owners who lost everything 103 years ago.

“It was destroyed, unnecessarily, by a mob who in my opinion was envious and jealous of the lifestyle that existed here,” Gant said.

That mob killed hundreds of people and destroyed 35 city blocks with more than 1,000 homes and businesses.

Gant said the history shouldn’t be confined to just the destruction.

“We should remember that one event and one day does not define the legacy of the Greenwood district,” said Gant.

Greenwood was a thriving black community filled with entrepreneurs, homeowners and families trying to get their version of the American dream.

“Encouraging blacks to come to Oklahoma or at the time Indian territory to live a life that they deserve and that was the start of Greenwood and those are the type of stories the pioneers who made that effort and created this enclave of black people should be remembered,” said Gant.

Walking the streets of Greenwood 103 years after the massacre, the spirit of entrepreneurship still fills this historic area with the shops and businesses that line the road.

For the community that’s remembering the destruction that happened more than a century ago, Gant said it’s equally as important to remember the spirit of fortitude and community.

“It’s significant in American history so it’s worth commemorating,” said Gant.

The Black Wall Street Legacy Festival is also happening this weekend to commemorate the anniversary. For a look at the schedule visit here.

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