Remembering 1921 Race Massacre Beyond June 1

 

One of the outgrowths of the upcoming remembrance of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is that there is still much to learn about those horrible days nearly 100 years ago. The Tulsa Faith Community has been stellar in finding a way to find lessons out of the ashes. There is a recurring theme among all those working hard to make Tulsa a better place; that is, never forget what happened and for this city to be better.

Another group working to learn is the education community. It has been mentioned time and time again that so many never heard of the massacre. How could something so horrible find no place in history books or in Oklahoma curriculum? Well, like so many acts of racial hatred in Oklahoma, it was hidden. It was buried away in the hopes it would never be spoken of again. That gambit did not work, and now the history of Tulsa is drug out into the light of day.

Tulsa Public Schools has a noble and ambitious curriculum set to be taught this May in certain grades touching on specific subjects. Accordingly, it will reteach the same subject matter each year. They will study the history of Greenwood, gentrification, reparations, and the events leading up to the massacre. It will no doubt be uncomfortable at times, but ignoring the facts is a worse fate. In the future Tulsans will enter adulthood enriched with serious knowledge and no doubt see their city differently and hopefully want to see changes.

There has been several well-meaning docudramas, documentaries, and television adaptions of the Tulsa Race Massacre. What appears to be one of the finest is set to be broadcast before the anniversary on June 1, 2021. Russell Westbrook is the executive producer of the tentatively titled “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre.” Westbrook is an NBA superstar who played 11 years in Oklahoma when he first heard of what some call the worst race massacre in United States history. To remedy this omission, Westbrook and the History Channel will broadcast the documentary this Spring to coincide with the 100-year-anniversary of the race massacre.

The documentary will be directed by Nelson and Marco Williams and will shed more light on this historical event. As part of the effort, the History Channel will join the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, Endeavor, RedFlight Innovation and Values Partnerships to generate an educational and innovative campaign on the history and importance of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street. Accordingly, it will encourage and educate this and future generations that anything is possible. Perhaps even inspire new Black Wall Streets and the spirit behind it all over the country.

Greenwood Rising is literally rising and other projects are starting to take shape as Tulsa reckons with this important recognition.

 

Tulsa County Seeks To Wrestle Jazz Hall Of Fame Away From Its Home

 

Tulsa County and the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame have never had a harmonious relationship and now they not only want to evict musical institution with roots deep in the black community, but they also want to sell its home and move it. This must not happen of course.

Born under the leadership of State Representative Don Ross and State Senator Maxine Horner the Jazz Hall of Fame was to pay homage to Oklahoma’s unique place in America’s original music. Black and Native Americans were some of the earliest and most gifted jazz artists during the early days. Much of that music played in halls in and around Greenwood and it rightfully is to remain there. It is to stay there in perpetuity or forever as envisioned by Horner who tragically left this earth several weeks ago. The county invested $4 million out of the 2025 Vision funds to buy the Union Depot train station. It was owned by Williams Companies and was to be managed by the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame Board. It was purchased by the Tulsa County Industrial Board which is made up of Tulsa County Commissioners January 12, 2004. Under the terms the Tulsa Jazz Hall would pay $1 rent a year for 99 years. They are responsible for utilities, insurance, and upkeep. Current management has fallen behind and the county is attempting to remove them. The day of the eviction the Jazz Hall of Fame filed for bankruptcy that has stunted the county plans.

Some of the questions yet to be resolved before the planned deconstruction of the musical institution are who the legal intended tenants are and who are the legal beneficiaries of the sales tax monies.

In a just world, this institution should not be liquidated and moved from its historic home in defiance of its intended purpose. There is still time to make sure a misjustice is not committed in a rush to remedy a problem that does not require a heavy bat at this time.

 

Vernon Jordan Was A Trusted Counsel To The Powerful

 

Sadly, at 85 Vernon Jordan has left this earth after a life of public service at the highest levels in American government. Born in humble beginnings he rose to fight for civil rights and later became a Washington insider and corporate counsel.

Perhaps he was best known as the man former President Bill Clinton depended on for wise counsel during his most trying times. Before that he fought in the southern trenches of the civil rights era with the NAACP, United Negro College Fund and National Urban League. Being the face of black America made him a target and while speaking in Indiana he was shot in the back. His shooter was later arrested and was executed for a string of murders of black men.

Vernon Jordan was valued for his wise counsel until the day he passed from this earth. He will be long remembered for his distinguished service to America.

 

Julius Jones Commutation Attempt Attacked By OKC DA

 

In a letter to the pardon and parole board filled with slanted and misleading characterizations of Julius Jones by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, the DA listed reasons to not hold a commutation hearing. Jones is accused of the shooting death of Edmond resident Paul Howell in 1999 and awaits an execution.

Claiming overwhelming evidence in what was clearly a trial marked by prejudicially ineffective defense, counsel did not provide Jones an opportunity to speak to his alibi. Defense failed to refute the lone eyewitness that said the assailant had long hair. Jones had short hair.

The pardon and parole board will hold a phase one commutation hearing next week before the parole board. If approved the case would move to a more in-depth hearing that may lead to a commutation recommendation to Governor Kevin Stitt who has the final say.

Jones has a group of celebrities who support his case and a majority of Oklahomans (60 percent) believe he should have his death penalty reduced. That includes 49 percent of all registered republican voters. Praying they do the right thing.