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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission will host several events next week to honor those who were lost and those who survived 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

Now, 100 years later, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission seeks to commemorate the historic neighborhood, the violent destruction of the district, and the Black Americans who thrived and died on its streets.

“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.

Monday, May 31, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Prayer Wall Dedication

On Monday, May 31, at 10 a.m., Vernon AME Church will dedicate a prayer wall in honor of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Vernon AME Church is located at 311 North Greenwood Avenue Tulsa, OK, 74120

4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

‘Remember & Rise’

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.

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 and Stacey Abrams will be the keynote speaker.

Tickets are required.

Doors will open at noon and local artists and speakers will perform, but the main program will begin at 4 p.m.

  • 4 p.m. – Formal program begins with headliner, speakers, and artists
  • 6 p.m. – Formal program ends, post concert begins
  • 9 p.m. – Candle distribution begins at the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street
  • 10:30 p.m. – Candlelight vigil marking the 100-year anniversary of when the massacre began

10:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Candlelight Vigil

A solemn ceremony and public ceremony on the streets of Greenwood, Archer, and Elgin for a moment of silence as we remember the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre when the first shot was fired which started the massacre at 10:30 p.m. on May 31, 1921.

To participate virtually, take a moment of silent reflection by participating virtually in the candlelight vigil.

  • Hold a candle or similar light source.
  • Make a personal commitment to racial healing and reconciliation.
  • Take a picture of yourself to archive this historic moment of remembrance.
  • Post your image and personal commitment to social media using: #TulsaTriumphs, #GreenwoodRising

Tuesday, June 1

President Joe Biden will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre on Tuesday, June 1.

Also, the City of Tulsa will begin a full excavation and analysis of the ‘Original 18‘ site at Oaklawn Cemetery.

Due to the size of the grave shaft and anticipated number of burials, experts expect the excavation could take weeks or even months depending on the needs in the field. 

After the first day, experts intend to work at Oaklawn Cemetery Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.