Library of Congress agrees to change subject heading from ‘Tulsa Race Riot’ to ‘Tulsa Race Massacre’

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – A task force at the University of Oklahoma has spearheaded an effort to change how the Library of Congress catalogs the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Officials say Library of Congress Subject Headings are extremely important and are often used to find important resources on topics when searching online library catalogs.

Following a proposal by a task force at the University of Oklahoma Libraries, the Library of Congress agreed that the term ‘Tulsa Race Riot’ was not completely accurate.

“The vision of the task force was to work across University Libraries toward a unified goal, one rooted in social justice, and to employ language in such a way as to create a more accurate description of a horrendous event,” said Todd Fuller, a task force member and curator of University Libraries’ Western History Collections. “The updated subject heading will be used in library catalogs in the U.S. and internationally.”

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

The Library of Congress has agreed to update its subject heading from “Tulsa Race Riot” to “Tulsa Race Massacre,” thus changing how the massacre is listed in subject headings in library systems worldwide.

The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred May 31 through June 1, 1921 when a white mob attacked residents, homes, and businesses in Tulsa’s predominantly Black Greenwood District.

Officials say it remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history and is also one of the least known.

“I’m proud of OU Libraries’ pivotal role in petitioning the Library of Congress to change their subject listing from ‘Tulsa Race Riot’ to ‘Tulsa Race Massacre,’” Karlos Hill, associate professor and chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies in the OU College of Arts and Sciences, said. “In making this small but significant shift, the Library of Congress is helping to bring forward a more historically accurate perspective of what actually occurred.”

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