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“IS THE WORLD ON FIRE” (Tulsa Race Massacre)

"Is The World on Fire"

“Is The World on Fire” By Rev. Marlin Lavanhar

“Is The World On Fire” is a series of 31 cartoons about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the struggle for reparations and reconciliation. The cartoons will be released one per day in the month of May 2021 in the Black Wall Street Times in the lead-up to the anniversary of the massacre.

The images seek to challenge, disrupt, engage and inform the public by bringing to the surface truths and perspectives that are rarely discussed in cross-racial conversations.

Issues such as the impact of the massacre on children and the role of religion in the events and their aftermath become immediate and accessible in a way that leverages the unique capacities of cartooning as a medium of communication.

The cartoons combine art, hyperbole and satire in order to raise questions and draw attention to parts of the story that are often obscured. Some of the cartoons are drawn on top of historic photographs that were used as postcards in 1921, by white people, presumably to brag to the world about the destruction of Greenwood.

These augmented photographs tell an important counter-narrative from the story that their original creators were trying to portray. One of the cartoons highlights a fundamental gap in perception between many Tulsans regarding where the city is in the process of reconciliation. A goal of the series is to help close the gap of understanding by bringing to light views that can be a catalyst for conversation.

The hope is to raise consciousness and spark dialogues that could lead to innovative democratic possibilities for healing and restoration.

The series will be made into postcards and available for purchase at the grand-opening of The Black Wall Street Times, Thursday, May 27, 2021, at 4 PM at 217 E. Archer St. Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103

Marlin Lavanhar is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Tulsa since 2000 who has been an activist and advocate for reparations for the 1921 Race Massacre for two decades.  His ministry has brought him into contact with survivors and descendants of the massacre as well as decedents of white Tulsans whose ancestors were witnesses or perpetrators.  In 2008, his 2000 member, predominately white congregation merged with a predominately African American congregation making it one of a small group of actively interracial churches in the city.  He and his wife are raising a white son and an African American daughter whose questions, insights and interactions often inspire his art.   Lavanhar’s cartoons have been published recently in the Tulsa World and the Black Wall Street Times and will appear in the upcoming book “Pandemic: Race and the Media” David G. Brown.

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