History Museum To Move After GCC Board Rejects Lease Plans
In a courageous move in the face of serious deadlines and powerful forces, the good people on the Greenwood Cultural Center terminated the agreement to build near their site. Several sticking points led to the decision. The lease agreement clearly was not respectful of the Greenwood district and included a lack of space to adequately display a world class history center.
This once in a lifetime opportunity was treated like it was a once in a lifetime decision. The cream of area leadership said this was not about them, it was about properly moving forward to tell the 100-year-old story that has shaped Tulsa’s life. One could say the leaders have prepared their whole life to make a difficult vote to not take the easy path.
While this appears to be a setback in plans, it actually opens up a world of opportunities. Everything from building a large enough center to adequately tell the story of one of the worst racial incidents in American history. At times the worst in United States history is in dispute; not because it was not horrible, but because there are other atrocities in our nation’s history. Native American massacres, and other slaughters of African Americans during the time around the Tulsa savagery are painful milestones as well. As a history center Greenwood Rising will continue to research the time when so much terror went on in the Greenwood area.
It will be beautiful to see the Greenwood organizations bring their goals and talents together to create a place of healing and reconciliation. To see healing come to all parts of Tulsa to bring about understanding. And the world will be watching.
There is still the framework of Tulsa leaders prepared to move forward and that is the plan now. 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission has already started the process of identifying new sites and will redirect architects to build a new and more exciting project. And its not too late to raise more money to make Greenwood Rising even more extraordinary.
There is no lack of hope and enthusiasm for seeing the project to glorious completion. The initial plans have been in place for months and there is no reason to believe once a location is found it can’t be completed in timely fashion.
The Greenwood Cultural Center, and the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation have all lent their considerable talent and imaginations to this project and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue. Passion to see this project march toward a June 1, 2021 completion is a major challenge at this point and we hope Tulsa leaders continue to meet with their eyes on the prize and brotherhood in their hearts.
True to the goals of the member organizations, the culture of Greenwood will involve reconciliation and hopefully reclamation should the commission decide on land that burned and stolen. That would be an early sign of racial healing.
Now Is Not The Time To Rush To Reopen The State
No doubt the pressure to reopen the state in the face of the virus shutdown is immense. The pressure may also be reckless and potentially dangerous. And for African Americans and other communities of color this risk may well come at their expense. While there has been a massive effort to built ventilators and safety gear along with a shelter in place effort, there is no vaccine as of yet. As to be expected, much of the resources have gone to high end hospitals and cluster areas. What hasn’t changed are the historically poor to bad healthcare found in areas with people of color.
The death rate for people of color still doubles per capita of those of white Americans. Some of the reasons are long standing health deficits that have led to hypertension, diabetes, asthma and other serious health concerns that are only exasperated by Covid 19. Accordingly, people of color die in greater numbers when they become infected with the virus.
As President Barack Obama once said, when white America catches a cold black America catches pneumonia. That said, African Americans are in dire danger from the virus that has no vaccine at this time. Unfortunately, a vaccine many not come for over a year if at all. There are no shortcuts to a magic pill. The malaria pill once touted by Trump as a quick treatment has been found to be ineffective in fighting this coronavirus.
Governor Kevin Stitt has joined President Donald J. Trump in attempting to restart the economy. It would be better for all if infection and death rates were trending down instead of rising. For those reasons we cannot support the easing of restrictions that are saving lives. As suggested by Trump, the easing is not full release of restrictions and will be slow and deliberate. Perhaps that will be a time when infection rates have slowed to a crawl.
Unfortunately, what isn’t helping are protests by Trump supporters who want to reopen to energize the economy to pre-virus days. That seems very improbable and life as we know could be changed for a very long time. Stitt is eager to see Oklahoma go back to work. Oklahoma is looking at a billion-dollar deficit and with every passing day the loss becoming deeper. Trump egging on protestors to pressure Democrat governors is reckless and has nothing to do with a re-election bid.
A poor economy like poor healthcare devastates people of color in cruel ways. We urge the state to move slowly and with great care. Lives hang in the balance.