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GREENWOOD Dist.--World famous Lizzo took time during her Tulsa concert on Saturday to uplift and honor the legacy of Greenwood and Black Wall Street.
On stage in front of nearly 20,000 concertgoers, Lizzo told Tulsans she wanted to “dedicate this next song to Greenwood”.
“I don’t want to talk about the tragedy, because we know about the tragedy,” Lizzo said. “Can we just talk about the prosperity of Black Wall Street?”
“That is the result of when you let people just be themselves,” she said to a cheering crowd. “When you let people be in community – when you let them mind they business.”
The artist then drew connections between the destruction of Greenwood and white supremacist legislation taking hold across the country.
“We’re seeing the exact same thing happening today!” Lizzo continued. “Marginalized communities are being tampered with; our rights are being taken away!”
“It’s still happening!” she declared to the crowd. “1920 to 2023 – it’s still happening! Stay woke, Tulsa!”
Lizzo urges Tulsans to learn the history of Greenwood and fight to protect it
Lizzo’s concert at the BOK Center took place just blocks away from Greenwood.
In the early 1900s, Greenwood was one of the most thriving communities in the United States. The 40 blocks to the north of downtown Tulsa boasted 10,000 residents, hundreds of businesses, medical facilities an airport and more. The community was burned to the ground in 1921 by a mob of White Tulsans, aided by government authorities.
Residents of the community rebuilt beginning just days after the destruction. Soon, the community was thriving once again until the construction of I-244 razed multiple buildings through the process of urban removal.
The story of Greenwood and of the massacre remained hidden from Oklahoma history books for generations. Just years after the mandated curriculum ensured Oklahoma students learned this history, legislation like HB 1775 is undermining the ability for teachers to educate students on the full history of the topic.
“I know you know your history,” Lizzo told those at the BOK center, “but they’re trying to take [it] out of schools. Educate each other, because history is meant to be learned from.”
Protecting the history and legacy of Greenwood requires more than cheers in a stadium, Lizzo and others reminded the audience. It requires “showing up” and “fighting” for a future “where the laws protect us”.