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TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Debate League and the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues will host a free, virtual public debate and dialogue on Thursday, April 22, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., about the need for reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The event features a live debate between two Tulsa Public Schools student debaters and a panel discussion, moderated by attorney, author, and consultant Hannibal Johnson.
The discussion will take place between John Rogers, Jr., founder and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments and Obama Inaugural Committee Co-Chair, and Michele Roberts, Executive Director of the National Basketball Association Players Association.
“This public debate is an opportunity for our students to show the community – and the country – the power of constructive dialogue and deliberation around this critical issue: the legacy of racial trauma in America,” said Ross Faith, Tulsa Debate League’s Executive Director. “ By offering a stage for students and important public intellectuals like Mr. Johnson, Ms. Roberts, and Mr. Rogers to share, we hope to elevate the dialogue and spotlight this important discussion leading up to the Centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.”
Debate focuses on how best to repair Greenwood
The event will begin with a 20-minute student debate about the best method for repairing the damage of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. A panel discussion will follow, exploring the issues raised by students in the debate. As the leading expert on the history of Greenwood and the Tulsa Race Massacre, Hannibal Johnson will serve as moderator. His newest book, Black Wall Street 100, chronicles Greenwood’s hundred-year history since the Massacre. John Rogers, Jr. is the founder and CIO of the largest, minority-run mutual fund in America. His great-grandfather, JB Stradford, owned the Stradford Hotel, which was destroyed in the Massacre.
He has spoken publicly, including in congressional testimony, on the legacy of the Massacre and the need to address systemic inequality and build Black wealth. Michele Roberts is the Executive Director of the NBA Players Association, the first woman to head a major professional sports union in the United States. She has been at the forefront of helping players raise social consciousness around political activism, mental health, and racial injustice. Recognized as one of the best trial attorneys in the country, Michele Roberts was an instrumental member of the legal team led by Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. of Harvard Law School that sought reparations of Massacre survivors in federal court in Tulsa in 2005.
This program is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.
The Tulsa project is supported by Oklahoma Humanities, The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Hille Foundation.
About Tulsa Debate League
Tulsa Debate League is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supporting debate education in Title 1 schools in Tulsa through education programs for students, including a summer camp and curriculum and teachers training.
The Tulsa Debate League is part of a growing network of “urban debate leagues” around the country which exist to promote debate education in low-income, urban public school systems. It is affiliated with the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (“NAUDL”), a national nonprofit which helps leagues grow and sustain progress towards ambitious educational goals. NAUDL is a co-host of this event as part of its I Resolve public debate series. Peer-reviewed research shows that debaters in low-income, urban schools are more likely to graduate high school, meet college-readiness benchmarks, and achieve greater gains in cumulative GPA and SAT/ACT scores than comparable peers.