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As the centennial year of the Tulsa Race Massacre kicks off, the most horrific, racially-motivated tragedies in our country’s history, The Black Wall Street Times would like to recognize children’s book, Opal’s Greenwood Oasis, slated for release February 2, 2021.
Opal is authored by Oklahoma natives Quraysh Ali Lansana, poet and Tulsa Artist fellow, and Najah-Amatullah Hylton. Skip Hill, a mixed-media visual artist in Tulsa, illustrated Opal through various collage and sketch drawings.
I love Opal’s Greenwood Oasis because it is narrated through Opal Brown’s eyes, a young third-grade girl growing up in Greenwood. Throughout the book, Opal takes us through day-to-day activities in Greenwood–which I especially enjoy. Through her eyes, we experience the richness and Black joy that existed throughout Greenwood in 1921, before the massacre.
More than that, though, Lansana and Hylton humanize the Black experience throughout this book while showcasing the well-rounded Black community that once existed in North Tulsa during the 1920s. This book puts faces to the long list of names impacted by the White mob who looted and rioted this community.
Lansana and Hylton write, “In Greenwood, we have everything we need, and it might surprise you to know that everyone looks like me.”
The Tulsa Race Massacre is often spoken of as a singular event without mentioning how thriving the community was before and how the community rebuilt itself immediately after government-sanctioned bombs ruined their homes and businesses while massacring its people. That is why Opal is such an important text; it only highlights Greenwood as the lush community it used to be while centering the Black experience around an innocent young child.
Opal’s Greenwood Oasis, though a children’s book, is a special text for all ages. And without ruining the book’s ending, I will say that the authors do an incredible job of incorporating the massacre ever so subtly, but still very forceful.
To learn more about Greenwood and the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre, or to order the book, visit thecalliopegroup.com/product/opal.