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GREENWOOD Dist. — A museum birthed out of controversy is once again facing heat as lawyers for Greenwood Rising Museum seek to deny a descendant of famous Black Wall Street doctor A.C. Jackson control over his family’s estate.
The land that the Greenwood Rising Museum sits on was once the location of Dr. Andrew Chesteen Jackson’s medical practice. Dr. Jackson was one of the most notable Black surgeons in the country before he was shot and murdered during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, when the City of Tulsa deputized thousands of White men to kill, steal and destroy 36 square blocks of Historic Greenwood District, dubbed Black Wall Street.
Today, the land is run by the Hille Foundation, a White-led philanthropic organization.
On Monday, attorneys for Greenwood Rising and the Hille Foundation asked a judge to strike Dr. Jackson’s great-great nephew from being the special administrator of his own family’s estate.
“My family, myself, we take umbrage at the fact that folks who are not related to us are trying to prevent us from protecting the legacy of our great relative,” Adams told reporters immediately after the hearing.
During the massacre, Dr. A.C. Jackson, according to the Victory of Greenwood, was shot with his hands in the air after surrendering to the White mob:
“They encountered Judge John Oliphant and a group of armed men in khaki uniforms. Dr. Jackson put his hands in the air, saying, “Here I am. Take me.” When the men raised their rifles, Judge Oliphant yelled, “Don’t shoot him! That’s Doctor Jackson!” The men didn’t listen and shot the doctor twice in the chest and once in the leg,”The Victory of Greenwood
Greenwood Rising battles family for control in court
District Judge Kurt G. Glassco ordered both parties to come back with more documents as he prepares to either remove or uphold John Adams’ role as special administrator of his great-great uncle’s estate.
Justice for Greenwood attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons represents Adams. He also represents the three last living survivors of the 1921 Massacre in an ongoing public nuisance lawsuit against the city and other entities.
On Monday, Solomon-Simmons accused the museum and the Hille Foundation of victimizing the families of massacre survivors by using their names and likeness without compensating their descendants. Lawyers for the foundation had sought Adams’ immediate removal from the estate, but Judge Glassco delayed making a final decision.
“Greenwood Rising and the Hille Foundation is trying to shut down John Adams from having the opportunity to protect the legacy and the history of his great-great uncle, Dr. Andrew Jackson,” attorney Solomon-Simmons told reporters after the hearing.
“For the Hille Foundation and Greenwood Rising to attack them and say they don’t have a right to open the estate is appalling to John and his family.”
Greenwood Rising is no stranger to controversy
Since the inception of the Greenwood Rising Museum in August, 2021, it’s faced criticism. It was birthed as a brain-child of the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, a group of mostly Republican state and local elected officials who raised $30 million for its construction.
Yet even before the first brick was built, survivors and descendants of the 1921 Massacre expressed outrage at $30 million being used for cultural tourism while their families continue to be denied reparations for one of the worst instances of racial violence against a thriving Black community.
The Greenwood community protested the decision. Community leaders pushed high-profile musicians and politicians to boycott attending the centennial commemoration after officials refused to agree to compensate the families or place more descendants on the museum’s board of directors. Ultimately, John Legend and Stacey Abrams skipped the event after heeding calls from community leaders.
Museum neutral on racism while profiting from family’s stories
The museum has succeeded in educating over 50,000 visitors of the brilliance of Black Wall Street and the bitter jealousy of racists hell-bent on its perpetual destruction. Yet the museum has failed to push visitors, residents and leaders to take vocal stances on reparations.
In a recent interview with the museum’s new director, their stance was made clear.
“Well I think as an institution it would be important for us not to take a formal position on reparations. I’m open to talking to any of those folks who want to speak directly with me about it,” Greenwood Rising Director Dr. Raymond Doswell told The Black Wall Street Times.
Meanwhile, Greenwood Rising, backed by the Hille Foundation, continues to seek the closure of the A.C. Jackson estate while using the land where his medical practice once stood.
Notably, attorneys for the foundation are trying to make the case that John Adams isn’t a direct descendant and therefore shouldn’t be qualified to represent the estate.
“I can only think that they must’ve come down with the worst case of cognitive dissonance I’ve ever heard of because on one hand you can’t hold yourself out as a paragon of the community and then on the other hand come into court and play dirty legal tricks,” John Adams said on Monday.
“They’re proving why we need to do this, the Hille Foundation, because they’re taking economic advantage of Dr. Jackson’s likeness and image,” Adams added.
The judge has given both sides until April 10 to turn over more documents ahead of his final decision.
To view the court motion, click here.