By Eagle Newswire
TULSA, OK – In its short history, Oklahoma has bore witness to some of the most horrific acts of racial terror in the United States, including the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre when white mobsters and klansmen destroyed the thriving Greenwood neighborhood and lynched hundreds of Black citizens. Our disturbing past cannot be hidden; it must be faced head-on.
The national organization, Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, AL, in partnership with the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition (a group of leaders and organizations within the Tulsa community) is working to ensure that our history is memorialized. In September of 2019, The Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition will be unveiling the first historical marker specifically purposed to tell the story of racial terror in Tulsa. The marker, placed on the property of Vernon AME Church in historic Greenwood, will be unveiled in a ceremony this fall honoring the power and spirit of Black Wall Street and memorializing the catastrophe that destroyed it.
Reverend Dr. Robert Turner of Vernon AME Church stated, “EJI historical lynch marker shows Tulsa that even though some have tried to forget the terrible legacy, others in Tulsa and across the world will never forget what happened on that dreadful day. I am so appreciative of EJI for their diligent work in recording mass atrocities and denied justice to Americans of African descent. This esteem marker that Vernon AME will display should be a reminder to all that Greenwood was and still is an active crime scene.”
As a part of this ceremony, EJI will be hosting an essay contest for all Tulsa county high school students. The winner of the essay contest will be invited to share their essay at the ceremony in September alongside community leaders and EJI officials.
Essays will be open beginning in May, with submissions accepted through the middle of the summer. Any public high school student enrolled at the end of the 2018-2019 school year is eligible to enter. Essays will be judged by staff at the Equal Justice Initiative and scholarships will be awarded to students who write the top essays. Additional details about the essay contest will be provided to local school and district officials in the coming week.
Nate Morris a member of the coalition says, “The marker and essay project with EJI is an unparalleled moment for us to do the hard work of memorializing our history while building a better, stronger future. Together, Tulsa must reconcile with its dark past of racial terror and understand how that past persists into our present in order to move forward in a powerful way. I am so grateful for the community and national leaders who have put forth an extraordinary amount of work to make this moment possible.”
EIJ as well as the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition believes deeply in sharing the stories of our painful past that so often go untold, because it is only by facing our truth that we are able to make progress toward justice and true reconciliation. We are excited about and inspired by the opportunity we must engage our bold and brilliant students in commemorating and shaping our history, together.