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The Tulsa Race Massacre: A Retrospective

Perhaps the ugliest, largest and most shameful blot on Oklahoma’s history is the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. And until recently, it was an event largely swept under the rug, or – at best – wildly downplayed, essentially rewritten to fit a racist agenda. The event was halted from rising to the forefront of discussions about our state’s history. In the last Few Years, things have changed. Conversations have shifted. Finally, a horrible event is being presented factually. The truth has been brought to the light. Motivations have morphed into education, into reconciliation, into healing. In this retrospective, we take a look at Oklahoma’s burgeoning all-Black communities prior to the massacre; the event and its aftermath; the evolving education surrounding the Massacre; the Flourishing Greenwood District as it stands today; and the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and its hopes for a better, more united Tulsa.

By the District

Cabin Boys BreweryEast Village DistrictSaturn Room Photo by Jessica Karin PhotographyGuthrie Green Photo by Jonnu SingletonWoody Guthrie Center Metropolis at Mother Road Market Photo courtesy Lobeck Taylor Family FoundationDust Bowl Lanes and Lounge, Tulsa and OKC Photo courtesy McNellie’s GroupCain’s BallroomAmerican Solera, Tulsa Tulsa by Tracy LeGrand Tulsa Arts One of the oldest downtown hubs, the Tulsa Arts District is rich with iconic...

Frances Jordan-Rakestraw

Frances Jordan-Rakestraw, executive director of Greenwood Cultural Center, is a K-12 product of Tulsa Public Schools. She attended Ralph J. Bunche and John Burroughs elementaries, Roosevelt Junior High and Central High. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Northeastern State University, Jordan-Rakestraw held numerous corporate jobs and became the first black woman in Tulsa’s history to become...