TULSA, Okla. – Oklahoma students across the state will soon learn about one of the darkest moments in state history in the classroom.
The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma was once called the “Black Wall Street,” a 35-block radius in the segregated community thriving with hundreds of businesses.
But, on June 1, 1921, the entire area was burned down as a result of a riot that began after a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman.
White residents attacked the community, 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.
“For decades, Oklahoma schools did not talk about it. In fact, newspapers didn’t even print any information about the Tulsa Race Riot. It was completely ignored. It was one of those horrible events that everyone wanted to just sweep up the rug and ignore,” U.S. Senator James Lankford said.
As the 100th anniversary approaches, community leaders have pushed for justice for the dead. Recently, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum proposed using $100,000 from the city’s budget to search for the mass graves of the victims.
While the search for the victims continues, Oklahoma educators are working to make sure that what happened to them is not forgotten.
Currently, Tulsa Public School teachers are the only educators who have undergone training to teach about the massacre. Now, the Tulsa Race Massacre Commission is working to open a workshop to teachers across the state.
“You can’t teach the Tulsa Race Massacre without teaching the causes,” Candice Pierce, a 7th-grade teacher at Thoreau Demonstration Academy, told KJRH.
Some schools across the state do teach a little about the massacre, but organizers say this is a more comprehensive look at the massacre and the aftermath.
A teaching course will be offered to educators this summer.