The Oklahoma Eagle Newswire
Sen. Lankford and Sen. Booker put Historic Greenwood district on the path to federal recognition 102 years after the Tulsa Race Massacre
Members of the US Senate introduced legislation today to designate “Historic Greenwood/Black Wall Street” as a new national monument. The introduction marks a significant milestone in the movement to preserve the legacy of the storied district, which served as a beacon of African-American entrepreneurship and prosperity before its destruction during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey are the bill’s co-sponsors. The legislation is championed by the Historic Greenwood/Black Wall Street Coalition, composed of more than 11 Tulsa-based nonprofit organizations.
Members of the House of Representatives are expected to introduce a companion bill when the chamber reconvenes in 2024.
“I commend the senators’ work to ensure that Black Wall Street gets its overdue recognition as a community that is integral to America’s unfinished story,” said Tiffany Crutcher, executive director of the Terence Crutcher Foundation and descendant of a Tulsa Race Massacre survivor. “The bill’s introduction in the Senate, and hopefully soon in the House, gets the nation closer to acknowledging the truth – that this is sacred ground, blood was shed here, and justice has continually been denied. It is my hope that a national monument will inspire the country to rebuild a future Greenwood that is full of possibilities for generations to come.”
“National Monument designation for Greenwood/Black Wall Street represents a Black experience of creativity, entrepreneurship, tragedy, perseverance, triumph, and community,” said Reuben Gant, executive director of the John Hope Franklin Center. “We must recognize memory as an aspect of coming to terms with the past by facing all aspects of American history; stories of great cruelty, and of great courage.”
“As District 1 City Councilor, representing the area where Greenwood and Black Wall Street reside, I take immense pride in the significant step towards federal recognition for Historic Greenwood district by Senators Lankford and Booker, 102 years post the Tulsa Race Massacre,” said Vanessa Hall-Harper, Tulsa City Councilor. “While this overdue acknowledgment is a positive stride for our nation, it doesn’t diminish the profound impact of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. Instead, it crystallizes both the horrific moment in our history and the eras before and after. Many thanks to all of the advocates who have fought for this recognition for decades as well as the grassroots coalition who worked tirelessly the last three years.”
The Historic Greenwood District of Tulsa, known as Black Wall Street, was once a thriving metropolis of Black wealth and one of the most affluent African American communities during Jim Crow, comprised of Black-owned buildings, businesses, grocery stores, libraries and more. The community served as a successful model for Black economic success in segregated cities.
Starting on the evening of May 31, an angry white mob descended on the neighborhood, murdering more than 300 Black people and razing 35 to 40 square blocks to the ground. The community’s decimation, known as the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, is considered one of the worst acts of racial violence in US history.
The Historic Greenwood/Black Wall Street Coalition is seeking to unite all Americans in its national campaign to create the Historic Greenwood/Black Wall Street national monument. In addition to the legislative pathway, the coalition has asked President Joe Biden – who in 2021 became the first sitting US president to publicly acknowledge the massacre – to use his authority under the Antiquities Act as an alternative pathway to secure the designation.