Oklahoma pastor reflects on 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) —The historic Vernon AME Church is the only physical structure that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

On Monday, hundreds came to commemorate one of the deadliest racial massacres in our nation’s history. 

The church is considered the grandmother of Greenwood. 

It’s the oldest Black landowner in the entire district. Something the pastor said he knew nothing about until he moved to Tulsa. 

“I feel as though I know why God sent me here now. I did not understand it in 2017,” said Reverend Robert Turner. 

Reverend Robert Turner said he dedicates his life to understanding what happened on May 31, 1921. 

Tulsa was home to one of the most prosperous African American communities in the nation. That is until a white mob burned the community to the ground and killed hundreds of Black people.

The church’s basement remains the only physical structure from the massacre. 

For nearly a century, the history of the unforgettable act of violence was buried. 

“Everybody needs to know the what, why, how, where, when. Everybody needs to understand it so we can stop these things from happening again,” said Justin Chinn. 

“I came on the 19th, and I’m learning so much. It’s kind of overwhelming to know that I’m sitting on the history that I read about,” said Nadine Seler. 

The burning of Greenwood lingers on, and the fight for racial justice continues. 

“We’re still fighting for them and for those people who died. We are still fighting for them. There are members of our church who died in the race massacre,” said Turner. 

President Biden will be in Tulsa to pay his respects Tuesday.  

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