10 Ways to Commemorate The 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre
Explore a list of resources, events and updates to honor what was once known as “Black Wall Street.”
A century ago, from May 31 to June 1, 1921, the affluent Black community in Greenwood, Tulsa, also known as “Black Wall Street,” was viciously attacked by a mob of white men and the Oklahoma National Guard. Known as the Tulsa Race Massacre, the white residents not only incinerated the district’s 35 city blocks, but they killed as many as 300 Black men, women and children, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.
To mark this centennial event and to ensure that no one ever forgets this history of Greenwood, the city of Tulsa and cultural institutions across the nation have rolled out a series of educational resources, films, exhibitions and more, to engage and educate the public. Below, Colorlines shares 10 ways to honor those who perished, the survivors, and descendants who are continuing to keep their neighborhood’s legacy alive.
Engage in Tulsa City County Library resources: This organization collects, organizes and archives materials on all things related to Tulsa history, which they make available in-person and online. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tulsa, the library will host a series of exhibits called “TCCL Remembers: Commemorating Tulsa’s Race Massacre,” which seeks to educate the public on the racial and political causes and effects of the event.
Listen to thenew Motown collective album: Available May 28, three days before the anniversary, a new hip-hop album, “Fire in Little Africa”, features 21 songs recorded at the Greenwood Cultural Center, over the span of five days by local Oklahoma artists, to honor the event. A documentary featuring the recording process and the community of musical artists in Tulsa will also accompany the project.
Watch an update onReparations: In September 2020, nearly 100 years after hundreds of Black Tulsans were murdered, the Justice for Greenwood Foundation an- nounced a lawsuit against the City of Tulsa and six defendants at the Greenwood Cultural Center. This past February, 11 Tulsans, made up of survivors, survivors’ kin and historic institutions, revisited the suit to hold accountable and to recover “unjust enrichment” from those who have benefited from the “exploitation of the Massacre for their own economic and political gain,” according to the suit. While the case is ongoing, Justice for Greenwood’s site also includes historical information on the slaughter. Check out their most recent town hall event here.
“The Greenwood community continues to fight against the erasure of our history and the whitewashed narrative promoting Tulsa as a tourist attraction, instead of the reality that our city still suffers from the initial and continued harms of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre,” said Tiffany Crutcher, founder of the Terence Crutcher Foundation, which was established in 2017, to activate law enforcement, policy makers and community members to recognize and rectify bias and harm against Black men and youth by raising awareness and providing resources. Crutcher continued, “As we gather for the centennial of this tragedy, we will honor the victims, descendants, and the last three living survivors and their century-long fight for justice and accountability. Our survivors’ lawsuit and their race for justice couldn’t be more urgent as we race to ensure they receive reparations in their lifetimes.”
Photo: Black Wall Street Legacy Festival
Tulsa massacre survivor, Mother Randle.
Photo: Black Wall Street Legacy Festival
Tulsa massacre survivor, Hughes Van Ellis.
Photo: Black Wall Street Legacy Festival
Tulsa massacre survivor, Mother Fletcher.
Track the progress of the re-interment process: In March 2021, Tulsa’s local news Channel 8 reported that the 1921 Graves Public Oversight Committee recommended a full excavation and analysis of the Original 18 site at Oaklawn Cemetery. The goal of this excavation is to identify the remains and then place them in a permanent burial and memorial site. The City will reportedly hire a funeral director and provide financial support for further research. Stay updated on the City’s progress, here.
Listen to the“Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth” podcast: Presented by ABC Audio, which labeled the massacre, “the most violent attacks in American history, and also one of the least talked about.” For decades, the bodies of victims remained unknown until 2020, when at least 12 coffins were unearthed by a team of archeologists and forensic anthropologists. Now, the podcast seeks to answer what happened in the hopes of finding justice for those who survived and for the descendants of those who didn’t. Listen to the podcast trailer.
Attend theBlack Wall Street Legacy Festival: From May 29 through June 19 (Juneteenth), survivors and descendants are hosting a series of events dedicated to the 1921 massacre with events, dedications and programs curated by Black Tulsans. Review a full calendar of events, as well as a visitor timeline that begins in 1865 with Juneteenth emancipation and spans to 2021 with the reimagining of Black Wall Street.
Celebrate Black Oklahoma: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission resource for all things related to Black Oklahoma, and includes information on a new history center, art projects, education initiatives, business development and more. For out of towners looking to visit Greenwood for the Tulsa commemoration, the site also provides information about local accommodations. On May 31, tune into the commission’s nationally-televised “Remember & Rise” event, headlined by EGOT-holder John Legend.
Discover why words matter: The Library of Congress finally followed the advice of educators when they agreed to change their language from “Tulsa Race Riot” to “Tulsa Race Massacre”, in March 2021, after being pushed by a group of University of Oklahoma Libraries professionals to get the language right. Review the full press release.
Watch “Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten”: On May 31, PBS will premier the 90-minute documentary, which explores the city’s history of anti-Black hate and the community’s resilience despite this discrimination. Narrated by NPR’s Emmy Award-winning journalist Michel Martin, the film chronicles current public efforts to commemorate the Tulsa Race Massacre and will feature interviews with descendants, historians, religious leaders, community activists, and more.
N. Jamiyla Chisholm manages creative content at Barnard College and is the author of the upcoming memoir “The Community.” As a journalist, she focuses on culture, gender and sexuality, and history.
SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See: SilverLakeExperience.org
W. PETE MAIRS
Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.
Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.
GERALD C. SAHRLE
Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.
Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.
KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")
"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.
BRENDA J. PADDOCK
Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”
Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.
Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.
Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.
Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.
Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.
Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.
A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.
Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com.
AUGUST 4-7, 2022
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