TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – The highly-anticipated Remember & Rise event was canceled after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission could not fulfill increasing financial demands from three living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, according to the Centennial Commission’s chairman.
State Sen. Kevin Matthews, chairman of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, spoke Friday about the sudden cancelation of Remember & Rise, a ceremony previously scheduled for Monday to honor the thousands of victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Remember and Rise’s cancelation on Thursday came as a shock to many.
It was to be one of several solemn events in which Oklahomans and out-of-state visitors gathered to remember and honor the hundreds of lives lost and the community destroyed during one of the deadliest racial attacks in United States history.
The event was to be held at ONEOK Field in the Greenwood District on the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which occurred over an 18-hour period from May 31 to June 1, 1921. Prominent politician Stacey Abrams was to be the event’s keynote speaker and music superstar John Legend was set to perform.
Matthews said the ceremony was canceled because the financial gift requested by three Tulsa Race Massacre survivors could not be met.
The Centennial Commission was initially approached by legal representatives of the three living survivors, who asked that the survivors be included in Remember & Rise events, according to Matthews.
“They asked us to provide a financial gift for them in return,” Matthews said.
Donors to the Commission had previously offered to make financial gifts to survivors of the massacre, so, Commission members did not feel uncomfortable discussing financial gifts for survivors, according to Matthews.
The Rev. Ray Horn, a respected, impartial pastor, held a meeting, bringing the Commission and survivors together on Saturday, May 22. The meeting ended well with an agreement that the Commission would raise $100,000 per survivor and provide a seed gift of $2 million for a Reparation Coalition Fund, Matthews said.
“The deadline for that fund and that fundraising was one week, and we did it,” he said.
However, the following day, the survivors asked that that they be given $1 million each instead of the previously agreed upon $100,000 amount and that the seed gift to the Reparation Coalition Fund be raised from $2 million to $50 million, according to Matthews.
“We could not respond to those demands,” he said. “So, to be clear, I absolutely want the survivors, the descendants and others that were affected to be financially and emotionally supported. However, this is not the way, no matter how hard we try.”
While the cancelation of Remember & Rise is a blow to both the Commission members who organized it and the community members who anticipated it, several others events will be held during the centennial period to memorialize the many lives lost during the massacre. At the bottom of this story is a full list of events happening this weekend, next week and throughout the rest of June.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit the Greenwood District on Tuesday.
The Tulsa Race Massacre began after a young Black teenager named Dick Rowland was accused of sexually assaulting a young white woman named Sarah Page.
A white mob laid siege to Tulsa’s Greenwood District, a prosperous Black community referred to as Black Wall Street. The mob killed and wounded scores of Black community members and looted and set fire to homes and businesses.
The 35-block district that had boomed with hundreds of thriving black businesses was reduced to charred ruins. Amid the destruction, hundreds of Black residents were killed and 800 others injured.
The 18 hours of unfathomable horror became mostly forgotten, and the Greenwood District, a shining beacon of Black prosperity and emergence during a time of immense racial suppression, never fully recovered.
Historians believe as many as 300 people were killed in the massacre.
Page later recanted her claim that Rowland assaulted her.
The Centennial Commission strives to honor those lives lost and ensure the mass atrocity that occurred in Greenwood 100 years ago is never forgotten.
Matthews said that while financial gift amounts for both living survivors and the Reparation Coalition Fund could not be determined this past week, Centennial Commission members hope to make a financial gift happen.
“We do have the funds raised, and if the legal team doesn’t bar us from it again, we will be providing those funds directly to the survivors,” Matthews said.
The following is a schedule of Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial events provided to KFOR by KTUL in Tulsa:
Friday, May 28
- Black Wall Street Memorial March – 10-11 a.m. – Starting at Carver Middle School
- Black Wall Street Memorial Unveiling – 10:30 a.m. – Greenwood Cultural Center
- Dedication of Pathway to Hope – 5 p.m. – John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park
- Black Holocaust Remembrance/Reparations Night – 5-10 p.m. – Vernon Chapel AME Church
- Remembering Survivors and Lives Lost – 6-7 p.m. – John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park
Friday, May 28 – Sunday, May 31
- Black Wall Street African Village Night – 7:30 p.m. – 1314 N. Greenwood Ave.
- Black Wall Street Legacy Fest – Greenwood District
- Black Wall Street Centennial Festival – 10 N. Greenwood Ave.
Saturday, May 29
- Greenwood Bus Tour – 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Oklahoma State University-Tulsa
- Black Wall Street Heritage Parade – 11 a.m. – On Greenwood Avenue from Archer to Pine
- Black Wall Street Family Affair Community Picnic – 1-5 p.m. – B.S. Roberts Park
- Greenwood Imagine – 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Living Arts of Tulsa
- Second Amendment March – 4 p.m. – Greenwood District
Sunday, May 30
- Unity Faith Day – 7 a.m. – Statewide
- Black Unity Black Power Outdoor Rally – 2-10 p.m. – B.S. Roberts Park
- “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” documentary premieres – 7 p.m. – The HISTORY Channel
Monday, May 31
- Dedication of Prayer Wall – 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Vernon Chapel AME Church
- “DREAMLAND: The Burning of Black Wall Street” documentary premieres – 8 p.m. – CNN
- Candlelight Vigil – 10:30 p.m. – Greenwood District
Tuesday, June 1
- 5:08 – A Sunrise Vigil – 5 a.m. – Ellis Walker Woods Memorial
- President Biden visits for centennial – Greenwood District
- Economic Empowerment Day – 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Cox Business Center
- A Century Walk – 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Osage Prairie Trail
Wednesday, June 2
- Dedication of Greenwood Rising – 11:29 a.m. – 2:29 p.m. – 23 N. Greenwood Ave.
Thursday, June 3 – Sunday, June 13
- “Tulsa ’21: Black Wall Street” – Tulsa PAC
Friday, June 4 – Saturday, June 26
- Tulsa Artists’ Coalition presents Race Massacre exhibit – 9 E. Reconciliation Way
Sunday, June 6
- “All Rise” with Wynton Marshalls – 3 p.m. – BOK Center
Saturday, June 12
- “Legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre” Roundtable Discussion – 1:30 p.m. – Oklahoma History Center
Saturday, June 12 – Monday, June 14
- Greenwood Film Festival – Greenwood Cultural Center and Circle Cinema
Friday, June 18
- BWS100 Cycling Event – 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Greenwood District
- Dedication of Historic Greenwood District Boundary Markers – 3:30-5:30 p.m. – 10 N. Greenwood Ave.
Saturday, June 19
- Juneteenth Festival – 9:21 a.m. – 10:21 p.m. – Greenwood District