Oklahoma To Incorporate 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Into Statewide School Curriculum
From NPR and WVU ARE BOSTON. I'm David Folkenflik and this is on point. The past is never dead as William. Faulkner told us it isn't even past even now the people of Tulsa Oklahoma or grappling with the tortured inheritance of what happened on May thirty first nineteen twenty one when an incensed white mob descended on a prosperous. Black neighborhood called the Greenwood district the carnage that ensued is one of the most deadly racist attacks. Nation's history get it took almost a full century and a hit. Hbo Show for Public Officials to acknowledge the full weight of the story to authorize search for unmarked mass graves to ensure local schools taught students about the violent incident and to ensure they taught about it in a way that captured. What really happened today? We'll talk about what it means to take on a heritage that is so onerous and so important this hour on point reckoning with the legacy of the Tulsa race massacre joining me. I is J. Connor. He's a staff writer for the route host of the extraordinary Negroes podcast and is important for today's discussion a Tulsa Native J. Connor. Welcome to on point going on man so you wrote this piece that really piqued my interest about this in which you talked a bit about The debates going on you talked about this historical event but you also talked about the fact. You didn't know about as a school child from the schools. You didn't learn about this coming up in Tulsa how do you learn about the about the Tulsa Racer massacre? Yeah I mean much like you know many of the unsavory parts of American history I had to rely on my parents to teach me about this So Yeah my. My parents were the ones that had that responsibility to teach me and It was it was interesting because It's very different to learn about something that doesn't directly influence you. Whenever you're you know in this instance I'm learning about a history that directly affected me because I'm from Tulsa. I'm living in the city. I'm seeing the reactions and I'm seeing the responses and how you know the repercussions of everything that occurred so also I went to a church in the eighties. Mega Church called higher dimensions and we had survivors of the massacre That we're actually attendance at churches will really. How old were you? Think about like nine ten. And so you're nine or ten years old. You're at church. You're in what do you hear from these survivors? I didn't actually. I don't remember having direct conversations with them directly but I mean I knew of them and I know that you know you know other people within the church held them within a certain within a certain level of reverence and understanding that the price that they paid in the sacrifices they made For the rest of us so do you remember what your parents told you a little bit. I mean my dad is like you know super PLO- Pro Black and made sure that we understood and you know that he did his part to impart us with black history knowledge because a lot of that stuff wasn't going on In school but I just remember him. You know just primarily him as well as my mom just really. Kinda you know breaking down like what happened in the repercussions of any kind of making me understand. You know the racial wealth gap and how that kind of contributed to it and how this this massacre was to kind of keep us. You know to keep us docile and keep us in a inferior position. So I like to play a clip for you I A of clips. I guess from Olivia Hooker. As she was six years old. That sounds like you already remember Miss Hooker. As she was six years old during the incident in nineteen twenty one she spoke to. Npr's all things considered about her remarkable life just two years ago when she was one hundred and three her memories of that night. Were still vivid. Let's listen at the. We saw a bunch of men with those Big Bang. Torchy's come through the backyard and I remember our mother put us under the table. She took longest table while she had the cover for children and told US Matt the say a word. It was horrifying thing for globe girl dates. Only six years old trying to remember to keep quiet. Bay wouldn't know we were there J. Connor then hooker described to the show what she saw and heard that day. Let's listen to that too. They took a huge ask and Gary lacking at my sister I leans beloved piano quite quite it was a good piazza and they thought that was something we shouldn't have now. Olivia Hooker became the first black woman to enlist in the coastguard. She and she became a distinguished psychology professor at Fordham University. She passed away later that year. November twenty eighteen at the age of one hundred and three J. Connor. That's sort of gives a little texture. We'll be talking later with the historian. Hannibal Johnson this hour but it gives a little texture of what people experienced. Hundreds of homes destroyed Up to three hundred people estimated killed that night. Really a part of Tulsa destroyed for for black residents there and yet as you wrote in your piece in the root for many people for many Americans for even many homes H A. Hbo Show really helped to Illuminate this issue. Not a documentary but a marvel product right It was it. Was a watchmen series. And that's actually DC. I'm sorry but McConnell. Okay it's hard to correct. Yeah Yeah it was. It was actually you know. The popularity of the watchmen and I think historically it's important to note that oftentimes it requires pop culture Television Film Whatever. You know these these different things the Kinda bring awareness to these things. You know what I'm saying because when you look it you know watching the perfect example as far as people watch it and they couldn't believe this actually happened and they're like no this can't be real so then they end up doing their research in finding out the yes. This actually happened. And another example of this as far as you know pop culture kind of shifting you know creating a paradigm shift and holding. People accountable for their actions is When they see us drop last year We saw that you know that movie came out and it. Did you know you know very well critically acclaimed but all the prosecutors that were involved in getting the Central Park five and you know an unfairly and unjustly you know part e instituted within the criminal justice system they were getting their books You know their book deals drop. They were getting fired from their their professor gigs. And things like that. So I mean it's it's interesting to see how there's a correlation between the two and I mean even most recently with the release of the Malcolm X. Documentary on Netflix. We saw at the Manhattan district. Attorney's Office is now conducting preliminary review of the convictions related to his murder. So you know in nineteen sixty five right right right so it's interesting how you know pop culture kind of has kind of been the catalysts for this Chica. Moment and explain a little bit about how you know. It's one thing to do a feature film like it was done for the central park five about the incident. It's another thing to do a documentary as you just mentioned about Malcolm X. In this case you're taking this Massacre this attack this assault and infusing it into what was a comic bookstore. He brought to life right. How is is that done for those? Those folks who didn't see the series in a way that would was so tangible and visceral for those who saw it. Unfortunately I haven't been able to see it either but I heard about it and From from what I understand is just they just did a a tremendous job of just really kind of just nailing that you know the importance of at home and to really kind of illustrating you know what exactly transpired and it was just so daunting and so amazing. You know just horrifying. I should say not amazing but so horrifying that people just literally hopped on Google in there like. There's no way this really happened. You know what I mean. So and how do you judge as somebody who's assessing this that this really did have an effect in that way? That the that the watchman in some part helped spur Attention well I mean the way that I judge is the fact that like I lived there experienced it. I mean not obviously not the massacre but the fact that it was omitted from history conveniently and if we look at you know education throughout the country. They're going to be very deliberate and calculated in. How they you know. Disseminate this information. I mean if you look at you know the native American boarding schools. They're very particular in how they discussed that or Japanese internment when it comes to marginalized groups you know. Historically America does not look out for our best interests. And they you know in omitting this information. They're purposely keeping docile. We've had a couple of commenters online on facebook. And on Twitter Rebecca tweets. I grew up in Tulsa. I left when I was eight. I didn't hear about this until about two years ago. A Michael Beach a post on facebook on our page and says I graduated from an Oklahoma School in one thousand nine hundred eighty seven. I didn't learn about the riots until I was in my twenties. It's something we need to teach for sure. Learning about the atrocities of our past helps hearing healing and beliefs. Various Murari writes. It should be taught in all states. I had no idea this happened until I saw it on. The watchman so speaking to your very point there J. Connor how much of this felt you. You're now I think you're joining us from Charlotte today. In North Carolina you don't live in Tulsa. Currently how much is felt as an Oklahoma thing at Tulsa thing? And how much do you think this speaks to? What African Americans experience nationally? I'm sorry repeat that last part again. I'm sorry well I'm just wondering how much you think this is something that Tulsa and Oklahoma has to reconcile at. How much do you think that this is part of a greater national narrative? Definitely you know. It's it's we're talking about one of the largest racial you know Violence History one of the largest examples of racial history. Racial violence history. And the you know the history of the United States I mean it definitely has a profound effect throughout the country especially when we talk about matters guards to the racial wealth gap. If you know what I mean. We're talking about you know. One of the thriving economies wanted to thriving black economies Within the country that was just completely decimated deliberately and I mean at the time Tulsa was heavily segregated but I mean they. They knew what they were doing it. And doing this. And I think that it's also important to mention that We are careful about the language we use because a riot and insinuates that This was a mutual situation. This was a clear massacre. This is hundreds an estimated three hundred I believe from two thousand and one commission people that were murdered in nearly eight hundred who were also injured Solely because of this. This child who believed you know acted inappropriately with young white girl so. I think it's important that we use the proper language and address in this situation as well. You've been hearing there from J. Connor staff writer at the root host of the extraordinary NEGRAS podcast J. Connor. Thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you thank you for your time. We're continuing discuss this hour. The one thousand nine hundred Tulsa race massacre it's enduring legacy and the evolving Oklahoma school curriculum that seeks to acknowledge what happened and commemorate the people and community that were wiped away. I'm David Folkenflik in this is on point. Do eat this. Donate that if you feel like. It's time to finally end your war with food. This is the podcast for you food. We need to talk. Subscribe on Apple podcasts. Or wherever you get your podcasts. This is on point. I'm David Folkenflik. We're discussing the Tulsa race massacre of nineteen twenty one that took the lives of hundreds of residents in the Greenwood district An African American neighborhood referred to as Black Wall Street We have Made a call out for sooners Particularly Tulsa who grew up. We WanNa know how they learned about this. How what if anything they were taught about this. We're getting comments online. Were also receiving callers. WanNa take one before we go to our next guest We're hearing from Taus in Maryland. Kyle is calling in Kyle. Thanks for listening today. What are your thoughts? Thank you For small. I'm a I grew up in South Tulsa which was not the greenwood part of town but the predominantly white part of town. I'm in a white family that had been in Oklahoma for over one hundred years And I had never heard anything about growing up and I actually went to a private and I would say fairly. Liberal minded and creative arts minded school and they. It wasn't on their curriculum. Either to this but my junior year in high school. I remember so clearly. We had a substitute teacher for about two months and she was a recent College Graduate Ivy League. College graduate Who had grown up in the same community in Tulsa And she came back to teach English class and the first two week she was teaching she said remember so clear said. Okay everybody. Put your textbooks and everything back onto your desk. I want you to have a notebook and a pencil and I'm GonNa tell you something you've never heard before it's probably gonNA blow your mind. And she told us all about what they then called the Tulsa race. Riots which I know now was misnomer But we all just stared wide-eyed looking at each other like are you kidding here in Tulsa this happened and none of us had ever had ever heard a thing about it and I had been to the north side of town It was always considered the dangerous part of town and the Greenwood area. Like Oh. Don't get caught there at night or something and it was And it's sad to look back at. That was how we thought of it. And then I didn't know this richer history that had had but also the tragic history And it's so great. I WANNA say that to see that. The mayor of Tulsa leadership in Tulsa or at least trying in some way to confronted. I know they've been working on researching and finding any mass burial sites that might exist One of which is deepened. South Tulsa ironically That has always been known to be an African American cemetery predominantly African American military in the in the white part of town but Now apparently they're going to be looking at researching possibly digging up mass graves there. We'll kyle thank you so much for this. That is fascinating. I got imagine anytime a teacher says I'm gonNA teach you something you've never heard about you. Listen when it's this your. John must've just dropped. It must have been an extraordinary I don't know if it was day or days that you spent on this this terrible history but it sounds like it stayed with you in the decade since it did and I also remember thinking like English English class but there wasn't a lot of reading material that she could offer us about it. I you know the the I think that even the newspaper articles and things that you went to the library is very hard to find anything from that time So it was almost this word of mouth. Transference of this of this story and A few years later when I started working in the film industry Somebody I was talking about this story because I would talk about in college and to my friends and and be like I couldn't believe this and then I remember The producer. I was working with said. Oh I've got a treatment for a a a mini series. That somebody wants to do about the Tulsa race riots and I remember reading that and thinking. Oh my God that's been talked about. You know. Obviously nothing ever happened with it but but it was nice to see it I think I think fairly respectfully Honored in the DC comics series. Now the watchman too well thank you for that Kyle. We appreciate that so much. I WANNA now bring in Historian. Who is working on a lot of the issues? Kyle just raised Hannibal Johnson is joining us from Tulsa Oklahoma. He's the Education Committee chair of the. One thousand nine hundred ninety one Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. And he's also author of the forthcoming book. Black Wall Street. One hundred and American city grapples with its historical racial trauma. Animal Johnson. Thanks so much and welcome to on point. Hello David so. Let's talk a little bit about some of the issues. We're raising this hour. Some of the things that Kyle talked about. He talked about the fact that there weren't a whole ton of resources for him a couple of decades ago as a student to go to the library and learn more about this. At least not the ones that he could find How has on her understanding of what happened? In one thousand nine hundred eighty one changed in recent years. And what are you guys doing about it? Well I think one of the pivot point was the convening of the nineteen twenty one Commission to study the ride and make recommendations back in nineteen ninety seven easy to report in two thousand one thousand one which is comprehensive award-winning report. And that report generated a lot of media attention not just locally or nationally but internationally and from that point a number of other resources were made available including a number of books scholarly articles a lot more interest in investigating The series of events that led to nineteen twenty one and its aftermath so there are resources available to today. I happen to work with the Nineteen. Twenty one tells the race massacre. Antonio Commission and part of our work involves curriculum reform. Making sure that this history is seized properly into all levels of curriculum. We've even created a teachers institute in the summer beginning in twenty eighteen where we bring together. Teachers teach them this history. The substance of the history but also teach them pedagogy how to teach the history not just to students but other teachers the information being disseminated much more widely and broadly than than ever before. The series watchmen was catalytic in the sense that it generated a lot of interest in the the true history. This is a fictitional account. But but the opening sequence of watchmen was actually a vivid powerful and authentic imagining. What it must've been like to be black and to be in Tulsa when Black Tulsa was underseas in nineteen twenty. One want to take a call now from Michelle in Oklahoma City Oklahoma. Thanks for listening. Thanks for calling in today. Michelle hi thanks for taking my call. I just had a quick comment. So I've been in Oklahoma my entire life my thirties now and I have typical conservative values being from a conservative state including about the role of federal government however when it comes to our history especially the history of black Americans in Oklahoma. I think we need federal intervention. Like we've seen in the days of old where they came in and they made the population of certain states. Take seriously the issues involving it's minority population. We have serious deniers in Oklahoma. And You I think a lot of places around the nation would be very surprised to see how much systemic racism still exists in Oklahoma and Michelle. Can you stay with us for a second when you say they're deniers there? Is that related to what we're talking about today? Specifically in terms of the race massacre in Tulsa. Is that about something else more broadly. What do you mean no specifically about the Tulsa race massacre? I mean if you monitor any of the local news sources anytime they have been reporting on this new Featured this film that's come out about the massacre. You will see that a majority of our population refuse to refer to it. As a massacre they insist on claiming that there was some mutual combat. Taking place or that there was something that the African American community did and tells it to deserve what occurred. That's fascinating a form of local. Denial isn't and you're seeing that plowed even in mainstream news organizations professional journalistic outfits local TV stations or or the newspapers in town. Things like that absolutely and it certainly absent from our curriculum and I think that's a federal issue. Michelle thank you so much for your call. Hannibal Johnson. I'm seeing on twitter a comment from another listener. Jennifer Perry who writes? I think there was a quick mention of Tulsa race riots when I was in elementary schools in Oklahoma City. Calling into riot gave me an impression of black people revolting in wreaking havoc only in the last couple of years. Have I started to hear about what actually happened? You Know Hannibal it. It strikes me that at at minimum riot suggests that there's a Malay on two sides at least and it seemed to me that this incident was really minor And there was a response from blacks and to try to protect a young young black Boy and then there was this attack. Tell us what actually happened. A an encapsulated version of what really we're talking about when we talk about Tulsa in nineteen twenty one you know it's important really to first establish the national context for what happened and tells the Nineteen Twenty One nineteen twenty one comes on the heels of nineteen twenty nine hundred nineteen especially in nineteen nineteen. There were more than two dozen so called race riots throughout the United States and places places as far flung as New York and Baltimore Memphis Omaha Washington. Dc longview Texas. Elaine Arkansas and I could go on and on and on James Weldon Johnson of the end of Lacey Pe- called Nineteen nineteen the summer involved. Nineteen nineteen red summer red being a metaphor for the blood that flowed through the streets of community throughout the United States. Historians and sociologists are prone to call the early part of the twentieth century in America the nature of race relations in America the low point of race relations. So what happened. In Tulsa in nineteen twenty one is different in terms of magnitude and severity. But it really is emblematic of the kind of racial violence. That was occurring throughout the United States. And there are a number of factors Particular to Tulsa that led to this outbreak was land lust. That is the community of Greenwood. The African American community sat on land abutted downtown Tulsa separated by the Frisco tracks and so there were industrialist and railroad interests that wanted that land there was of course garden variety. Jealousy of the success of people in the Greenwood Community Block Wall Street people who own cars and homes and fine clothes. And and such in an era in which white reigned supreme. So how could those people be better off than than White People The media it was a media outlet called the Tulsa Tribune daily afternoon newspaper that published a series of inflammatory incendiary articles. Editorials that really fan the flames of white hostility against the black community. So it's a combination of those things and and the growth and development of the clan and Oklahoma and in Tulsa in the nineteen twenties peaking in the late nineteen twenties. All that was needed. Was something to ignite this tender box and the the neider was an event involving two teenagers. Dick Rowe and nineteen year old black. She's on boy. Sarah page seventeen year old white girl who operated an elevator. Dick Rowe needed to use the restroom on this day. May Thirtieth Nineteen twenty one. He went to a downtown building called Drexel building and the elevator. He knew that there was a restaurant located on the third floor of that building. He had to take an elevator. Sarah Pages operating the elevator. He got on the elevator elevator door. Close something happened to call the elevator jerk or to Lurch Dick Rowland bumped into Sarah Page Sarah page cream. The elevator landed back in the lobby. Dick Rowe and ran from the elevator. Sarah page exited. She was distraught comforted by a locally owned store. Clark from so-called Renberg's and the Tulsa Tribune got wind of the story and actually sensationalized tremendously. They characterized the incident as an attempted rape. They made Sarah page look more virtuous than she actually was which as a corollary made Dick Rowe villainous than he actually was Sarah Page would ultimately refuse to cooperate with the prosecution but before before her recantation of the initial story the Tribune's coverage really inflamed. The white community led to ultimately the violence that devastated the Greenwood community and nineteen twenty one. The violence itself laugh about sixteen hours but the damage wrought little loss of some one hundred hundred lives millions of dollars in property damage the internment of African Americans african-american spending days weeks and months living in tent cities set by the Red Cross which provided relief effort. It was a stunning and devastating blow to the black community specifically into Tulsa in general in nineteen twenty one. I'd like to remind listeners. We're interested in hearing from them for all listeners. For Oklahoma sooners in particular weather native. Sooners are people who live there. Now what do you want to know about the Tulsa Race massacre of Nineteen Twenty One? And Its legacy. What do you remember learning about it? I'd like to take a call now from Morehead city North Carolina. I believe it's a carrier. I hope I'm pronouncing your name right. Carrie thanks for listening. Toaster thoughts today. Yes I had heard. I of complete raising of the town of Rose would Florida as the first complete destruction of a thriving black community and It's absolute erasure from All history books and this was my first encounter with this sort of thing and this makes me think that there must be hundreds of these incidents all over the United States that have been erased from history books. There needs to be a federal inquiry into what has happened to all of these thriving black communities that must have existed and were raised will thank you for that carry. I appreciate that and we've got just the person talking about that. Hannibal Johnson Historian. Who's as we've heard has a greater context for this Walter Schaub? Who's a former top of federal official and government ethics? He tweeted back at us today. He said similarly how many people were taught about the battle at wounded knee as kids. Instead of the massacre at wounded knee was a horrific massacre. The lies have got to stop the idea being that history has a has to be reconciled with the truth of what actually happened. Handle Johnson. We have only a couple of minutes left before the end of this segment. Although we're obviously continuing on through the entire hour on this important topic but when when I think about it you know I was reading something in learning more about about this about the recent win which Oklahoma's have handled this. It's only recently that officials authorized the idea of looking at certain areas in Tulsa to see if they actually were unmarked graves for the bodies of the victims of this massacre. You know we're talking about ninety plus years later. What is the hope with that? And also why did it take so long to to get this authorized or the beginning of this mass graves? Investigation started in nineteen ninety. Seven with the convening of that commission. I mentioned was was officially called the Oklahoma Commission to study the Tulsa Race. Right of nineteen twenty one that official name of the commission that body disassembled in two thousand one issued a final report which is comprehensive but part of the work of that commission initially was to follow up on historical evidence oral history and some written documentation that there were in fact mass graves in Tulsa so That was looked at by that commission. Even some archaeological scientific work was done on particular sites but but the commission sunset and the work went in complete so our current mayor. Gt bynum learning about this history. An adult became committed. I think he made a made a pledge when he was a city councilor too if he ever had the power and authority to to further. Look into this prospect of mass graves to answer the unanswered historical questions. That still linger know what we're doing now is following up on the material the documentation provided by the first commission looking at a particular sites doing additional scientific investigation. Scientists advanced in twenty years. So the scientific equipment is much more sensitive in terms of detecting anomalies under the ground right now. There's there's the possibility of doing excavation In April at a particular sides all right. We're discussing two days of carnage in Tulsa Oklahoma. Nearly a century ago that destroyed thriving black community and became recognized as one of the deadliest racist tax in. Us history. Were also talking about how? Modern Day Oklahomans reconciling themselves to that very history. I'm David Folkenflik and this is on point. Each of us is the star in the movie of life. But how much of a role do we play in other people's movies? It was a really sort of palpable fear that they were going to reject me or worse. The unseen pressures placed on other people this week on hidden brain from NPR POINT NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik were discussing the Tulsa race massacre of ninety nine years ago and the challenge of getting the history right for society and for the state schools today with Hannibal Johnson Author and Education Committee. Chair of the one thousand nine hundred eighty one. Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and joining me now from Tulsa Joe Nelson he's AP language and composition teachers at will Rogers College High School Joe Welcomed on point. Hi David so your teacher. You're there to to form the kids. How is this taught in your school in our school? We do have a few history teachers who are looking at this from a historical perspective In my classroom I wanted to make sure that my students knew the story. Because it's not something that I grew up with on even though I'm from a small town north of here so for for me. It was really about making sure that they understood what had happened. And what had occurred in nineteen twenty one but no the full The full history of the Greenwood district going from the beginning of the Greenwood district through the events of nineteen twenty one and then looking at that rejuvenation as well take us inside the classroom. What does that I mean I actually appreciate the fact that you're approaching it not just simply. Hey there was this thing in their victims but hey there's this vibrant community let's teach you about it. Let's tell you about that. I and let's talk about the consequences after but take me in the classroom. If I'm student there what am I hearing you talk about? What am I hearing seeing you present? Well when I I really got into this work on an actually learned much of what I know from Hannibal Johnson we were looking at the actual history of what occurred in Greenwood at but it soon became apparent in my classroom as I started to present the information to the student that I had students coming to this with a lot of different points of knowledge I had some students who their families were talking about it or maybe they had heard about it from an elementary teacher so they had some knowledge. I had other students in the classroom. Who may be at heard the term that really didn't know anything about it and I had other students who may be hadn't really heard the term so in the classroom instead of just trying to make sure that they understood my pointed you. We approached it from adults are wrestling with whether this was a riot. Or a massacre We heard that. Because the first time that Tulsa put on our Tulsa the Institute for Teachers we call it the Tulsa Race Riot Institute and then to also race massacre institute so the overall question that we were looking at in our classroom was as we looked at videos of residents of from Greenwood as we looked at Dr. Olivia hookers interview of being a survivor. As we looked at the overall video from Dr Hannibal Johnson and we looked at opinion pieces from Tulsa world. Over the past two years I wanted students to wrestle with the same question that adults are was this a riot. Or was this a massacre and Did you down your mind. How how you felt absolutely not these were horrific events And so for me. I always used the term massacre. Because that's what it was but I also wanted students to be able to look at those primary sources because when you start to listen to residents of Greenwood and you start to listen to Like Dr Hooker when you start to look at the photos of what happened. It's pretty clear and I wanted to students to be able to see those rather than me. Just telling the story. Obviously we live in a multi-racial time but I wonder whether what kind of reaction you got from say. African American students versus white students. Was there any separation? There was there a difference in the nature of their response to you. I'm slightly originally. This was intended to be about a one week unit that we were going to go through. It ended up three weeks because I underestimated that in the classroom. This was an emotional issue This was not just about events but as you look at a photo students restart bringing up events that are happening in the world today and start making those connections and there were there. Were some of our African American students when they would look at it. You could tell that they were getting angry. You could tell that they were upset. That other students didn't notice and they wanted to know why they hadn't been presented that information You had other students who wanted to know why they had never heard about it. fascinating And do you get a sense? I mean you said that you didn't learn about this growing up you grew grew up in your in Oklahoma and you grew up grant so far in town not so far from Tulsa. You didn't know about it yourself How did you draw on your own experiences to figure out how to teach this to the kids? Well I about this when I was nineteen. It was in the early nineties and a friend is looked out the window and said Hey I think that's where some of the mass graves are and I had no idea what he was talking about and so I learned about the basics from him but again I think I heard somebody else on the program. Talk about how. We didn't have the resources that we have today. And so for me as I approach in the classroom. I appreciate it as a learner with my students and some of them have experiences that I don't have an I need to learn from them just as much as they need to. Um I need to help them find information and there were days in class where I would just sit down and I would let the students Take Control of the conversation. I made sure that we were being respectful. And I made sure that we were keeping things Appropriate but also wanted them to know that I am not an expert on this. I'm learning about all of this right alongside them and Joe before I let you go. What did you make of those? Who are in a sense your betters. Those who are in the capital There are those who are running the school boards there Who hadn't made sure that you learned about that. Some decades go. Who hadn't until recently made sure that the your charges learned about this that you are in the position that you're learning about this too along with your students. I think we have to understand that. This is history. This is accurate content. But there's a there's probably a reason why we haven't talked about this and that's because we don't want to face things that make us uncomfortable and we don't WanNa ask hard questions and we're going to have to accept that it's we may have to be uncomfortable in order to have some of these conversations and I really believe that if we are going to move forward if we're going to start that healing we've got to start educating these students today if we can't teach them in school how to have the conversation with somebody who may be just Disagrees WITH THEM OR SOMEBODY. Who has a conflicting viewpoint? It's not going to get an easier. Have to start the conversation. Now we've been hearing there from Joe Nelson on the front lines of that effort. He's a teacher at will Rogers College High School in Tulsa. Thanks so much Joe. Thank you like to take a couple of quick calls now I From Tulsa Oklahoma. John's Calling John. Thanks for listening Share your thoughts here thank you yeah. Thanks for having me so Like many of the same folks. I am Coming up on fifty so was not talked about when I was in high school. I I learned about in nineteen slips during the seventy fifth anniversary. When we were they started talking about the commission. But you know the point that I wanted to make is you know. pulses Have a lot of pride in our city is a great town and so when we didn't talk about it it wasn't that there was a cover up you know that we were looking to protect all the KKK Tate Brady and his Knights of liberty etc. It is thankful to us and so it is like he was just like you're saying it's uncomfortable and so I worked with a couple of different organizations. The we do education in the district specifically with tours and trying to enlighten people Because it is a very very difficult. Obviously it's embarrassing for fear in Tulsa because that is not who we are even in one thousand nine hundred ninety one that is largely not who we were so many good things going on at Tulsa while there was a significant population presence of the clan in Tulsa you know the vast majority of Tulsa were of horrid by those incidents. The massacre even back then. And that's why we kind of pushed it aside because we don't want to talk about it for so long. It has been so uncomfortable and same poll on Tulsa and John. Before you go just as a quick question if you don't mind sharing yourself are you white or are you a How do you identify Ariffin? Just wanted to get that as as data point as well John. Thank you so much for listening. And for sharing your perspective on one daughter Hannibal Johnson to Tulsa historian a chance to react to what he said that is that it wasn't a cover up but that this was in some ways a shameful episode that didn't reflect how most Tulsen's actually felt and therefore avoided. Well unfortunately sometimes the greatest harm comes from the silence and inaction of the so-called good people so also while certainly there were there were good people who did Helpful things after the the devastation including a first Presbyterian church downtown holy family cathedral sheltered people fed them. Clothe them et CETERA. There are also many people in Tulsa who are responsible for electing the leadership that was in place at the time part of which called the event a Negro uprising and after the devastation tried to take the land for industrial and railroad purposes and move the black community farther north so I think we have to own this travesty and we have to recognize that. It's not isolated. It's part of a pattern that pervaded the United States generally during the first part of the twentieth century and that we must have these courageous conversations around our true history Acknowledge as appropriate. What happened apologize as appropriate and perhaps most importantly atone for the damage? That was done as best. We can in the moment so acknowledgement. Apology and atonement are the steps in my mind. At least that are essential as we move along the road to reconciliation in this community and communities all throughout the United States. We have a listener. Kristen who writes on twitter as Oklahoma. And I'm so happy to hear you covering this. I learned about it my First Year of College at O. Are You I guess that's Oral Roberts University but even the severity of it was diminished and was blamed more on black behavior that instigated it We have a call now from Tulsa Oklahoma Jacob. Thank you for listening. And thanks for calling sir. I I learned about the song about What happened in the mid eighties mid to late eighties? I was about ten years old. There's a band called the gap band from Tulsa stands for Greenwood Archer and pine which are three predominantly streets in the green cultural district. So the song you dropped a bomb on me Was A low song. But my father told me it had a hidden meaning for the race riots of when they dropped the bomb on agreement. Culture district like Wall Street so I'm full blooded native Americans and so my father was always teaching me things about history. Hey a man can do anything against any other minority so You need to pay since she passed and learn at the same time. They had the Japanese intermittent camps in Arkansas. Not Too far away and The osage is were millionaires off oil and gas rights and they're slowly becoming killed off one by one of the people in the money Martin Scorsese Leonardo DiCaprio. Actually GonNa be filming a film in Oklahoma not too far from Tulsa about those osaze murders and so. I think there's all tied Indika with what happened in the history of Oklahoma but my father likes it. He educated me on the race riots race riots race. Nascar In the mid eighties because the gap band is from Tulsa They recently brought that up another Program the two teach the youth Another adults I think it should be taught You shouldn't be taught by your parents. things that should be taught in school. I mean the things that always you know that are swept under the rug as a native American You were taught to trail of tears. But you're just a bit from the Cherokee tribe You know there were five of traveling through many others that were Had Our history basically erased and I wish the state of Oklahoma would be like the state of Washington and Oregon and make Oklahoma native American history part of their curriculum because there are thirty. Six federally recognized native American tribes in Oklahoma And so we are the land of the Redman Oklahoma's for us I think we should Teach our history to ourselves as well. We'll make sure to post a link on our website to both the song you dropped a bomb on me. The nineteen eighty two song by the gap band but also to programs we've done An NPR has done on. Osage Indians. thank you so much for that. Call Nut insight Jacob Anibal Johnson We we have another comment from a listener who tweets the late Ozier Muhammad who tweets about the late historian John Hope Franklin a Tulsa native who grew up at the time in the massacre he talked and wrote about it and it was your rights. This ignorance is deliberate. It's not taught in our schools for a reason to further the myth of American exceptionalism. What do you think about that? Hannibal Johnson well. I say that Part of the reason that this history remained sub Rosa beneath the surface for so long is a confluence of psychological dynamics Fear Post traumatic stress disorder. Shame guilt blame. All those sorts of things at the time of the massacre was a booming booming community booming city that had been sort of a dusty outpost. It's also went on to call itself the oil capital of the world then the leadership the white leadership of tells us interest to minimize what happened in nineteen twenty one because Tulsa was taking its place on the national and the world stage there was legitimate fear in the black community about a recurrence of these kinds of of events there were shaming sectors of the white community and guilt over. What had happened so all these things taken together. I think create an atmosphere where it's rather easy to either be silent about or to minimize the devastation. That happened here in Tulsa. Some would argue that. There was in fact something more intentional conspiracy of silence to deliberately hide this. I will say that To exclude something of this magnitude from the curriculum actually does involve some level of of intensity But that's the past and we're in the present so we have to grapple with the realities of our misteps and and do the best. We can as quickly as we can to incorporate this rich and robust history into our curriculum. You've been hearing there from Hannibal. Johnson he's author and He's Education Committee chaired the Nineteen Twenty One Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. Thanks so much for this great conversation. You Welcome and folks continue the conversation. Get the point. Podcast or website on point radio DOT ORG and follow us on twitter and facebook it on point radio. You know. It'd be remiss in failing to note usually This program originates from Boston. I typically broadcast from here in New York City. It takes as they say a village to make that happen. It certainly takes a team to make me. Sound seamless. The rare occasion I do and to that. A lot of credit has gone to our director just teen down She helped this. New Host is into this role in produce. We say for wealth to her today. She has been an air traffic controller. Horse whisper and of all things conscience and were so appreciative for all of that. She's often new adventures in podcasting. I certainly suspect we'll see her back in news some days she has an eye and an ear for it or great. Thanks for her. We appreciate her. We appreciate the rest of the team but on point and we appreciate you for making this show as strong as it is. You've been listening to on point. I'm David Folkenflik thanks doll.