John Legend to headline ‘Rise & Remember’ event to honor victims of Tulsa Race Massacre

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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – In less than two weeks, the nation will remember and honor those lost in one of the worst instances of racial violence in the United States.

It has been nearly 100 years, but city leaders in Tulsa say they are still searching for closure after the Tulsa Race Massacre.

The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma was once called the “Black Wall Street,” a 35-block radius in the segregated community that was thriving with hundreds of businesses.

But, on May 31 through June 1, 1921, the entire area was burned down as a white mob attacked the community after a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman.

Tulsa Race Massacre
Tulsa Race Massacre, Courtesy: Oklahoma Historical Society

White residents burned down homes and businesses, killing hundreds of black residents and injuring 800 others.

Despite it being one of the worst instances of racial violence in the United States, the massacre was mostly swept under the rug.

Tulsa Race Massacre
Tulsa Race Massacre. Courtesy: Oklahoma Historical Society

Even though it’s been nearly 100 years since the attack, leaders say the community never fully recovered.

Although there are estimates regarding the casualties that occurred during the attack, officials have been working for more than a year to find all of the victims.

Crews have been excavating Tulsa cemeteries in search of unmarked graves that may contain the remains of the massacre victims.

In October, excavations began on two parts of the Oaklawn Cemetery.

In this July 14, 2020, file photo, workers climb out of the excavation site as work continues on a potential unmarked mass grave from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, at Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki File)
In this July 14, 2020, file photo, workers climb out of the excavation site as work continues on a potential unmarked mass grave from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, at Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki File)

As the search for victims continues, officials say it is time the nation learned about the dark day in Oklahoma history.

The nationally-televised ‘Remember & Rise’ event will commemorate the centennial anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The event will feature keynote speeches from national civic leaders and musical performances from additional artists.

It will also honor distinguished guests including survivors and descendants of the massacre.

“As a community, we will gather and remember the deadly days of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. We will share examples of how the community rose from those ashes to rebuild while also providing a message of unity and hope for the present and future generations of Black Tulsans, Oklahomans and Americans,” said 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission Project Director Phil Armstrong.

ONEOK Field, an outdoor venue in the Greenwood District, will host the event on the 100-year anniversary of the massacre, which falls on May 31, 2021.

Multiplatinum artist John Legend will headline the event.

John Legend
John Legend

“John Legend is known for his poignant performances and his transformational statements on civil rights’ for Black Americans,” said Armstrong. ” Remember & Rise is a once-in-a-lifetime event and John Legend’s participation ensures a global audience learns the history of what occurred here 100 years ago, on the streets of the most affluent African American community of the early Twentieth Century.”

The formal program will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Musical performances will continue throughout the evening before a candlelight vigil is held on the streets of the Greenwood District.

To reserve a ticket, visit the commission’s website.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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