Voices from Greenwood and Perspectives on the Tulsa Race Massacre

A special forum, a plenary lecture, tours, and an exhibit exploring the legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre connected the conference theme, (Re)Centering the Periphery, with the ways in which Tulsa scholars, activists, and community members are grappling with the city’s history.

“The session was a reminder to ground ourselves in the nature of truth-telling as a means of empowerment and encouragement, and to claim the right to narrate the history we believe. It was reassuring to be in the presence of colleagues who share our passion for historical storytelling.”

Michelle Brown-Burdex, Onsite Program Coordinator, Greenwood Cultural Center

Read the Annual Meeting highlight in AFS News and explore sessions in the accordion menu below.

Remembering Terror, Retelling History: A Conversation about Racial Justice Initiatives in Tulsa and N.C.

Sponsored by the Politics, Folklore, and Social Justice Section

Chair: Glenn Hinson (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and Michelle  A. Brown-Burdex (Greenwood Cultural Center)

Discussant: Jereann King Johnson (The 1921 Project Invitation)

Leading the call for remembrance and reparation in the aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Greenwood Cultural Center models anti-racist social programming that foregrounds history’s relevance to the present-day. This forum brings together representatives of the Center with those of N.C.’s Descendants Project, a UNC-based initiative that investigates N.C. lynchings, interviews victims’ descendants, and collaborates with community-based memorialization projects. Joining together in a conversation about public memory and racial justice, we’ll address strategies for challenging histories that erase accounts of racial terror, and discuss ways to engage descendants and other community members in telling stories of emergence, resilience, and anti-racist future-building. This event will be followed by a decompression session in the same room, 12:00-1:00.

Greenwood’s Past, Present, and Future

Sponsored by the AFS Local Planning Committee and the American Folklore Society

Quraysh Ali Lansana (Tri-City Collective)
Carlos A Moreno (Tri-City Collective)

As the crescendo of the international spotlight for the centennial commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre took place in 2021, the stories of generations of people who call the Greenwood District in Tulsa home were often overshadowed by the sensational retelling of the few hours it took to burn it down. In order to share the rich history of the culture of Greenwood, Tulsa Artist fellow and author Quraysh Ali Lansana and community activist and author Carlos Moreno, will take a detailed dive into the long story of the neighborhood. Beginning with the Trail of Tears which led to a great presence of Afro-Indigenous communities in Oklahoma territory, Lansana will provide an overview of Oklahoma pre-statehood, the formation of Black towns—including the Greenwood District—and racial tensions leading up to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Framing the second “life” of the neighborhood, Moreno, will walk through the aftermath of the massacre, how Greenwood residents rebuilt, and the ways urban renewal has changed the landscape of the district present day.

Tour of Greenwood Historical District

Black Wall Street Liquid Lounge, 10 N Greenwood Ave s101, Tulsa, OK 74120

This walking tour made a loop through Tulsa’s historic Greenwood neighborhood, also known as the Black Wall Street of Tulsa. Participants learned about the long history of this community, most notably known as the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, but more importantly a thriving Black community for over 100 hundred years.

Watch the session video for Greenwood’s Past, Present, and Future.

“We spent a lot of time speaking about how to foreground caring in both our conversations and our programming, and about ways of acknowledging/honoring descendants and their stories…the entire experience was deep, and deeply rewarding.”

Glenn Hinson, Associate Professor of Folklore and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on the Remembering Terror, Retelling History: A Conversation about Racial Justice Initiatives in Tulsa and N.C. panel

The Tulsa Race Massacre traveling exhibit was set up in the Tulsa Hyatt Tulsa Regency directly outside of the Tulsa Ballrooms, where plenary lectures were given, throughout the 2022 AFS annual meeting.

The graphics below were shared through social media prior to the 2022 AFS Annual Meeting to highlight Greenwood and Tulsa Race Massacre sessions.