By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY – On Friday, August 21, the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission (“Centennial Commission”) will host online the official groundbreaking ceremony of The Greenwood Rising History Center. Located at the Gateway to Black Wall Street, Greenwood Rising is situated at the southeast corner of Greenwood and Archer, in downtown Tulsa.
The event will be livestreamed on Facebook from 12 – 1 p.m.
The Greenwood Rising History Center will honor the Greenwood District before and after the Tulsa Race Massacre.
The groundbreaking event will focus on the importance of the land, the history of Greenwood, and the future of Greenwood Rising, organizers said.
Special guest speakers for the event include:
- The Honorable Lieutenant Governor, Matt Pinnell, State of Oklahoma
- The Honorable Kevin Matthews, Oklahoma State Senator
- The Honorable GT Bynum, Mayor, City of Tulsa
- Phil Armstrong, Project Director, Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission
- Maggie Hille Yar, The Hille Foundation
- Ray Hoyt, Tulsa Regional Tourism
- Tracy Gibbs, Descendant
- Alisha Jones, Tulsa Singer
- Whitney Stauffer, Partner, Selser Schaefer Architects
The event will include performances, music and video presentations.
For those who will be in actual attendance, this will be a masked event. Seating is limited to increase space between attendees. Organizers ask that guests be aware of socially distancing when possible and masked always. If you do not have a mask one will be provided for you. Sanitizing stations will be available. In person RSVP is required by contacting Hannah Jackson at 918-606-8721 or: [email protected].
In addition, the Commission encourages people to share videos on personal social media channels regarding the Greenwood Rising groundbreaking, and how the history and future of the Greenwood District is important to them personally.
On social media platforms, tag posts with @Tulsa2021 and use the hashtag #GreenwoodRising.
According to their website, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission’s mission is to “leverage the history surrounding the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre by facilitating actions, activities, and events that commemorate and educate all citizens.”
“It takes courage to be transparent about our history, including both famous and infamous events,” said Senator Kevin L Matthews, (R-Tulsa), 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission chair.
“We must address and discuss the facts as they have happened so we can ultimately stand together across racial, geographical, political and cultural lines,” Matthews added.
“The call for unity can facilitate education and enable greater understanding for future relations among competing and complementary interests.”
Local Projects, based in New York, is the design and strategy firm selected for the Greenwood Rising project.
Chosen from among a group of 4 firms, Local Projects assisted in the creation of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, and the Legacy Museum of African American History in Montgomery, Alabama.
The facility is planned to feature interactive experiences designed to familiarize both locals and tourists about the history of Tulsa’s African American community.
Situated at the entrance of Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District, Greenwood Rising will provide a connection to the Centennial Commission’s Pathway to Hope and sit adjacent to John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.
“The museum for Tulsa will bring enhanced travelers, new revenue and history enthusiasts to gain insight through educational and recreational venues offered within the Greenwood District boundaries,” said Sapulpa resident, Michael Reed.
As reported by the Black Wall Street Times, the Hille Foundation and 21 North Greenwood, LLC, halted construction of a planned mixed-use building in order to donate the land to the Centennial Commission. The Hille Foundation has long been engaged with the Centennial Commission’s work, Matthews said.
A prime site for the history center, Greenwood Rising is situated just north of the Frisco Tracks, a symbolic marker in the Greenwood District, and positioned to allow for walkability from “Deep Greenwood.”
Construction of Greenwood Rising is expected to be completed in the late spring of 2021.