Tulsa Public Schools commemorates Tulsa Race Massacre centennial

Collaborator: Tulsa Public Schools
Published: 05/04/2021, 3:43 AM

(TULSA, Okla.) This month, Tulsa Public Schools will commemorate the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre throughout the district. The events of the Tulsa Race Massacre are stains on the history of Tulsa. Decades of silence on the massacre dishonored the dead and halted the healing process for the living. During the month of May, the district will launch lesson plans on the Tulsa Race Massacre, created by Tulsa teachers in collaboration with the Greenwood Cultural Center.

“For more than 80 years following the massacre there was a ‘conspiracy of silence’ when schools did not teach about the events,” said Superintendent Deborah A. Gist. “We are committed to ending the silence by providing a safe place for students to reflect on the past, think critically about the present, and learn how to build a future society where all Tulsa citizens share equitable rights, freedoms, and opportunities. When speaking with students, we will let the richness of Greenwood culture and the Black Wall Street community, and its resilience, frame our dialogue.”

In 2002, the Tulsa Race Massacre was added to the Oklahoma Social Studies standards for United States and Oklahoma history for high school courses. In 2008, the Tulsa City Council passed a resolution for teaching of appropriate curriculum. While Tulsa Public Schools has worked intentionally to integrate culturally-relevant and age-appropriate content about the Tulsa Race Massacre into the district’s curricula for years, this centennial year is an important opportunity for all Tulsans - adults and children alike - to learn, reflect, and build deeper understanding of the history and legacy of Greenwood.

Gist said: “I did not learn about Greenwood, Black Wall Street, or the Tulsa Race Massacre as a child growing up in Tulsa, and it is not unusual to meet graduates of Tulsa-area districts who also did not learn about it until well after high school graduation. That is changing, and we are deeply dedicated to ensuring this important story is a part of the school experience of Tulsans as well as students beyond Tulsa. This year, and in years to come, these lessons will help our community and others understand the past, reflect on the present, and prepare our students for their future.”

The district has also launched www.tulsaschools.org/TulsaRaceMassacre to provide resources such as videos, activities, and recommended books for students, educators, families, and the community to learn more about the Tulsa Race Massacre. The website also features links to community partners and information on events that will take place during the centennial.

This summer, Tulsa Public Schools will host their fourth annual Tulsa Race Massacre Institute for educators in partnership with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission. The institutes have provided professional development on teaching hard history; how teacher and student identity impact the classroom; the history of race relations in the United States; and the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

For more information, visit www.tulsaschools.org/tulsaracemassacre.


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