Literature, Media and Events Honoring the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921

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For the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the New York Times has released an interactive experience, What the Tulsa Massacre Destroyed, that takes viewers through the streets of a digitally created and historically accurate Greenwood neighborhood, demonstrating the destruction the massacre created. Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma was considered the “Black Wall Street” in the 1920s and after a group of Black individuals tried to stop the lynching of a Greenwood resident, a mob of white people from the next town over opened fire on the small town, inciting what is still known as the singular worst display of racial violence the country has ever seen.

Hundreds of Greenwood residents were violently killed, homes and businesses destroyed—all by a mob of white gunmen and arsonists. What happened in Greenwood was hidden from history for decades and willfully ignored. This week, through the piecing together of maps, photographs, inherited stories from historians and tales from descendants, the story has slowly become more and more uncovered—and to understand its magnitude, there are many modes of engagement.

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The New York Times interactive experience takes viewers through the streets and shows which buildings were burned to the ground, where the most violence existed and the names of the people and businesses that were destroyed. As viewers scroll through, it becomes more and more immersive, grappling with the reality of what was lost.

The program takes you all the way through Greenwood and highlights everything known about the massacre. Photos of the businesses and storefronts accompany the 3-D experience, making it all the more harrowing. What the Tulsa Massacre Destroyed includes photographs of the residents and their stories as well as maps with information on where the majority of the violence ensued.

The program is now live on the New York Times website and more information can be found here.

The Burning: Massacre, Destruction and The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 – Tim Madigan

The Burning: Massacre, Destruction and The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 – Tim Madigan
The Burning: Massacre, Destruction and The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 – Tim Madigan

The death toll of the Tulsa Race Massacre has never been officially known. Some estimate that the death rate was around 100 people—75 percent Black—but the overall casualties could account for over 300 people. On the 80th anniversary of the massacre, Tim Madigan published The Burning: Massacre, Destruction and The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Madigan illustrates the town of Greenwood and exposes the “height of its prosperity.” The novel explores the prejudices and racism that existed between Greenwood and neighboring white town, narrating “events leading up to and including Greenwood’s annihilation,” from Macmillan Publishers.

The Burning: Massacre, Destruction and The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 is also available in a young reader’s edition for ages 12-18.

February 1, 2003, Macmillan Publishers

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre – Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre – Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre – Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Carole Boston Weatherford and Floyd Cooper provide a new lens of looking at the Tulsa Race Massacre through an illustrated account of the event. The book creates a timeline of the lives of the residents of Tulsa’s Greenwood district and “chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921.” Unspeakable provides a new perspective that is widely overlooked and “sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.”

February 1, 2021, Carolrhoda Books

The Nation Must Awake: My Witness to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 – Mary E. Jones Parrish

The Nation Must Awake: My Witness to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 – Mary E. Jones Parrish
The Nation Must Awake: My Witness to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 – Mary E. Jones Parrish

Mary Parrish, teacher, journalist and young mother, learned of the beginnings of the Tulsa Race Massacre after her daughter came to her saying, “mother, I see men with guns.” Fleeing under a cover of darkness and bullets, Parrish and her daughter escaped their home and out into the night, unwillingly becoming witnesses to what is now known as one of the most violent and greatest race tragedies in American history.

For the first time, readers will get a first-person account of the events that took place from May 31, 1921, through June 1, 1921. With “meticulous attention to detail that transports readers to those fateful days.” She documents the mind-numbingly large losses of lives and destruction of property through her own eyes and other testimonies from Black residents. The Nation Must Awake details the bravery and horror that Greenwood residents faced in the aftermath of the riot. Though the story is now 100 years old, Parrish hopes to dismantle the idea of “land of the free, home of the brave,” by opening people’s eyes to the imminent danger of this continued mindset.

May 25, 2021, Trinity University Press

Dreamland Burning – Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning – Jennifer Latham
Dreamland Burning – Jennifer Latham

Some tales were destined to be told. 17-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property and has no real clue as to what she might uncover. She soon finds there is a connection between the old bones and the Tulsa Race Massacre, which took place almost a century before. May 31, 1921, finds Will Tillman right in the middle of one of the most devastating and violent attacks against Black people this country has ever seen. Told in a dual-narrative tale across decades, Rowan and Will seek to find answers about the past and present and are forced to uncover the tragic choices that led them there.

February 19, 2017, Little Brown Young Readers

The Victory of Greenwood – Carlos Moreno

The Victory of Greenwood – Carlos Moreno
The Victory of Greenwood – Carlos Moreno

The Victory of Greenwood provides 20 biographies of historically relevant people and allows for a new perspective through the eyes of prominent figures such as John and Loula Williams, B.C. Franklin and E.L. Goodwin and Jeanne Goodwin. Recently uncovered sources oppose some of the facts around the event and call to light the inaccuracies that have long been reported. In addition to the debunking of some myths, the book includes stories of Greenwood’s socioeconomic rebuilding and the monumental building of the Booker T. Washington High School and Vernon A.M.E. Church.

June 2, 2021, Jenkin Lloyd-Jones Press

Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples with its Historical Racial Trauma – Hannibal B. Johnson

Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples with its Historical Racial Trauma – Hannibal B. Johnson
Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples with its Historical Racial Trauma – Hannibal B. Johnson

Distinguishing the Tulsa that exists today from the Tulsa that existed a century ago, Black Wall Street 100 enters a portal and invites readers to go back to the historic Greenwood District as it would have been before the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921. The book examines both the prosperity and the poverty leading up to the event while also providing perspective on the rebuilding efforts that took place after. Black Wall Street 100 provides a map of Tulsa’s rebuilding that “may be instructive for other communities, similarly seeking to address their own histories of racial trauma,” from Eakin Press. In addition to Black Wall Street 100, Johnson published Images of America: Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District, a photographic examination of the legal, political, economic and social issues in Tulsa.

July 20, 2020, Eakin Press

“They Still Want to Kill Us” via SummerStage (Short Film)

SummerStage Anywhere presents the short film “They Still Want to Kill Us” on May 25, 2021. The controversial film, composed by Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), performed by J’Nai Bridges and directed by Yoram Savion is presented alongside a number of collective arts organizations from around the world and speaks the truth about what happened over the course of those horrific 18 hours. DBR’s work brings to light the connection between what happened 100 years ago and what is continuing today. “It seems that some white people still want to kill us (Black people), and the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and so many others is evidence of this bloodlust sown deep within the American psyche,” he says in a press release provided to The Root. “They Still Want to Kill Us” will be available to watch here until July 31.

MTV Entertainment Studios and Bassett Vance Productions Announce Scripted Series About the Tulsa Race Massacre

MTV Entertainment Studios has tapped award-winning playwright Nathan Alan Davis to write a scripted series about the Tulsa Race Massacre, produced by Bassett Vance Productions. Nina L. Diaz, President of Content and Chief Creative Officer at MTV Entertainment Group stated, “As storytellers—together with Courtney, Angela and Nathan—we have the privilege of shining a light on a devastating event in our history that is important, necessary and still resonates 100 years later.” Vance, whose character in HBO’s Lovecraft Country had a very harrowing and traumatic connection to the massacre, is excited to work on this series with MTV Entertainment Studios, as it reaches an even wider audience in retelling an event that was buried in history for far too long. This will be the first project Bassett Vance Productions has worked on with MTV Entertainment since their deal made in 2020. There is not yet a release date for the project, but you can learn more about it here.

“Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth” via ABC News

In episode 6 of ABC News’ “Soul of a Nation,” ABC News Senior National Correspondent Steve Osunami examined the tragedies of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the named and unnamed victims who went unnoticed for decades. He takes a closer look at the injustices and controversy around the lack of reparations for those who died and their descendants. The episode can be found on Hulu.

Additionally, all episodes of the podcast “Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth,” also hosted by Steve Osunami are available now. Each episode features “archived audio accounts from witnesses and interviews with historians” and provides new insight into the painful history and takes listeners on a “modern-day quest for closure and healing,” from a press release from ABC News. The podcast is available on all streaming platforms and can be found here.

“Tulsa: The Massacre and the Movement” via NBCUniversal News Group

On the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, NBCUniversal will be featuring a wide range of coverage from historians and offering their account of what is known as the “single worst event of racial violence in American history,” according to a press release from NBCUniversal. The series will be aired across seven platforms: Today, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, NBCNews.com, MSNBC, NBC News NOW, CNBC and Peacock beginning May 27.

Additionally, MSNBC correspondent Trymaine lee will host a digital documentary Blood on Black Wall Street: The LEgacy of the Tulsa Massacre available to stream on May 28.

“The Greenwood Story” via Ailey All Access

In conjunction with the documentary Black Wall Street Remembered, Alvin Ailey has premiered Greenwood, an immersive dance performance that navigates the events that took place on May 31, 1921, through June 1, 1921. TONY nominated (The Color Purple), Bessie Award-winner and 2019 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient Donald Byrd, already celebrated for his work around social justice and complicated socioeconomic issues through dance, art and performance, draws from his “riveting ensemble work” that draws on the massacre as an inspiration and source.

The Legacy of Survival at the Gilcrease Museum and Black Wall Street Legacy Festival

The Gilcrease Museum is offering visitors an inclusive chance to “talk” with two of the three last known survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre through an Artificial Intelligence (AI) exhibit, The Legacy of Survival, open from May 28 through July 4. Visitors will get to interact with Viola “Mother” Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle through an innovative technology that will not only allow them to hear the stories but ask questions, ensuring that the voices and stories are told. The exhibit is created in collaboration with the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival, a series led by the community that centers on the survivors and their descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The festival begins May 28 and lasts through Juneteenth with a celebration on June 19.

Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Juneteenth Program to Commemorate Tulsa Massacre

The Illinois Holocaust Museum will commemorate Juneteenth and pay tribute to the victims, survivors and descendants of the Tulsa on June 17 with a virtual event led by David Gray. The virtual conference will be a conversation with Phil Armstrong, project director of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and Carlos Moreno, author of The Victory of Greenwood.

You can find the information for the conference below:

What: Virtual Commemoration – 100 Years Later: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Who: Dr. David Gray, Professor, Oklahoma State University; Phil Armstrong, Project Director, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission; Carlos Moreno, author of The Victory of Greenwood

When: June 17, 6:30 PM CDT

Where: Zoom, Register: http://ihm.ec/tulsa100