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The Voice

The Future of Tulsa’s Past: The Centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre and Beyond

by Metro DC Synod Racial Equity Team on June 03, 2021

The remembrances on Memorial Day this year should also include commemorating the centennial of the Tulsa race massacre on May 31 – June 1, 1921. Belatedly described by the Oklahoma Historical Society as possibly “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history," it had been omitted from almost all local, state and national histories. However, it has not been forgotten by those who witnessed it and its aftermath, notably Ms. Viola Ford Fletcher, 107, Mr. Hughes Van Ellis, Ms. Fletcher’s 100-year-old younger brother, and Ms. Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106. Their testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee considering reparations for survivors and descendants of the massacre showed that the passage of time had not dimmed the horror and terror of the events, nor its impact on their lives. We must resist the temptation to declare these events as best to be forgotten, as not fitting into our national narrative. It and events like it must be recognized and acknowledged as part of the history of the United States, its citizens and residents. It must be commemorated and pondered, admitting and accepting it as the truth for our neighbors. Our contemplation must result in the resolve to address present injustice with compassion and humility.

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