By: Jenna L. Smith
The Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is launching a mobile walking tour app exploring the historic streets of Tulsa’s Greenwood District.
The commission said the cinematic mobile augmented reality experience will allow visitors to experience the vanished places, people and stories that built the thriving prosperous African American community known as “Black Wall Street.”
“This project is a state-of-the-art gift to the world,” said Kevin Matthews, chair and founder of the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. “After decades of silence about our history, residents and visitors from all over the world will get a chance to learn about and experience the heart and soul of Greenwood – a cultural mecca of resilience and racial healing.”
Users of the app will learn more about the hidden stories of the African American pioneers, educators and visionary entrepreneurs who built Black Wall Street, according to the commission. Featured individuals will include O.W. Gurley, Simon Berry, E.W. Wood, “BC” Franklin and Dr. A.C. Jackson, among others.
The app is being developed by Kujanga Jackson, executive director of TOUCH/TheZone and it is sponsored by Cox Communications.
“The idea for the walking tour app came from me truly wanting people to experience history,” said Jackson. “In 2019, I began working with some of my high school students using virtual reality to engage them in learning history. Most of them admitted they didn’t like history because it was boring. This sparked an idea of how I could use technology to help them experience history rather than just learn about it. Using technology to create immersive experiences engages the mind, the senses, and heart in a way that reading sometimes cannot. When I saw how the students came to life when learning about Pearl Harbor by actually being there, I knew I was on to something. The walking tour app is a byproduct of what I learned during this time and how I think that people from all over the world can truly have an experience with the history of Greenwood that will forever impact their hearts and minds.”