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GREENWOOD Dist. – Descendants of the historic Greenwood community and a coalition of Tulsa organizations, the ‘Greenwood Coalition,’ are asking President Joe Biden to designate the “Historic Greenwood District, site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, as a national monument using his authority under the Antiquities Act.
Last Wednesday, the Greenwood Coalition sent a letter to President Biden asking him to protect Black Wall Street as a national monument. The coalition represents the descendants of Black leaders who built Black Wall Street and the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre.
“For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness. But just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place. And while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing. It erases nothing. Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they can’t be buried, no matter how hard people try,” POTUS stated.
The descendants, Greenwood Coalition, and community want the site to become a national monument to preserve the area’s rich history and to make sure the public never forgets the tragedies and triumphs of the black experience in American history.
“I am hopeful that President Biden will take action and designate the Historic Black Wall Street District as a national monument. It will honor those who survived one of the most harrowing episodes in American history, and ensure that future generations learn about the struggle, strength, and determination of the people who came before them,” Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Executive Director of the Terence Crutcher Foundation, and a descendant said.
The 102nd commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre will happen on May 31-June 1, 2023. The coalition believes it’s time for the American public to come together in recognition of the greatness of Black Wall Street and the tragedies of the events of 1921. Too often in the past 102 years, local voices have been silenced and decisions about Greenwood’s future have been determined outside of Greenwood. Designating Black Wall Street as a National Monument will be the first step in honoring the significant contributions the Greenwood community has made to our nation’s histories, stories and culture.
The Descendants & Greenwood Coalition Letter to President Joe Biden
Dear President Biden:
On behalf of the undersigned descendants, elected officials, community members, and organizations in Oklahoma and across the United States, we would like to thank you for visiting Tulsa and acknowledging Black Wall Street, the Historic Greenwood District, and the 100th commemoration of the Greenwood massacre. Your visit brought national attention to an under-told story in American history, but more can be done. As the National Park Service found in 2005, we know this area is worthy of National Monument status.
We urge you to exercise your authority under the Antiquities Act to designate a national monument to honor the accomplishments of Black Wall Street and the Historic Greenwood District, and to also commemorate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. With less than a quarter of our country’s national parks devoted to recognizing the history of diverse peoples, movements, and cultures, designating this site will help guarantee that our monuments better reflect the diversity of the country.
Similar to the Pullman, Stonewall, Honouliuli, Reconstruction Era, and other national monuments, a Black Wall Street Historic Greenwood District monument would highlight an often-forgotten event in American history. By failing to acknowledge and memorialize this complex story, we are ignoring the history of Black success in the United States, along with the unjust and violent attempts to suppress it. Historically, we have ignored how this massacre represents just one of many atrocities against Black Americans in this country and the ways that oppression, racism, and discrimination persist in our history, culture, and politics.
By contrast, designating Black Wall Street and the Historic Greenwood District a National Monument would not only be a step forward in preserving the legacy of this place but also serve as a warning that this moment in history must never be repeated. Right now, we can recognize and educate ourselves about our ugly past, but also reimagine what this place can look like for future generations.
The undersigned officials, descendants, and coalition of groups strongly urge the Biden Administration to designate a new national monument to commemorate Black Wall Street and the Historic Greenwood District.
Thank you for your consideration.
“A national monument designation cements the Historic Greenwood District/Black Wall Street story into American history never to be forgotten,” said Reuben Gant, Executive Director of the John Hope Franklin Center.
Mr. Gant also reflected on the words of the late Dr. John Hope Franklin, whose desire was “to weave into the fabric of American history enough of the presence of Blacks so that the story of the United States could be told adequately and fairly.” Dr. Franklin is the namesake for the John Hope Franklin Center non-profit.