EDITORIAL: Tulsa site deserves to be national monument

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Dec. 15—The site of the Tulsa Race Massacre deserve to be a national monument.

Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., have introduced legislation to that effect, designating the Historic Greenwood District of North Tulsa, site of the 1921 massacre, as a national monument.

National monument status would do several things:

—Elevate the profile not just of this event, but of other race massacres, such as those in Elaine, Arkansas, and East St. Louis and many more, that Americans — to our shame — know nothing about. This would be a long-delayed antidote to what happened in the decades after the attack. "By the '20s, Tulsa isn't talking about this," said John Franklin, whose grandfather survived the attack. "The Tulsa press isn't talking about this. We begin the period of suppression." Until a few years ago, the event was airbrushed from history or given at best a few sentences in school textbooks.

—Make more federal funding available to interpret the story and preserve the site. We still have much to learn about this atrocity, including the number who were murdered.

—Emphasize not just the attack, which may have left several hundred dead, but also tell the story of a community that overcame it. Today, John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in Greenwood honors the Black community's effort to rebuild. It includes a plaque that reads: "And brick by brick, block by block, Greenwood rose again. Out of the ashes of intolerance and the fires of hatred came new homes and businesses, schools and churches. ... Out of the horrors of 1921 came renewed strength and pride, grit and determination."

In a statment, Lankford said: "The Historic Greenwood District/Black Wall Street area in North Tulsa deserves its place among our nation's significant historic locations. ... Even after the fateful events in 1921, North Tulsa remains a place of light and hope as the community continues to show their strength to overcome adversity and work toward reconciliation, which is something our nation should never forget."

Reuben Gant, executive director of the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, has been advocating for more than a decade for national designation for the site, according to the news site Oklahoma Voice. "Black history is an integral part of American history," Gant said.


There's no reason to oppose this, and we urge our delegation in Congress to get behind it.

Franklin previously told us that the challenge of this generation is to make sure the next generation knows about events like those in Tulsa.

National monument status will be a big step in that direction.