Tulsa is buzzing with development. There are cranes in the sky in the Tulsa Arts and Greenwood districts. New buildings and developments are going up touting advanced technology and one-of-a-kind installations.
It’s hard to fathom that 100 years ago this month, the city was on the verge of one of its darkest, deepest events that would hang over us to this very day. Lives were lost. Millions of dollars in businesses, homes and investments were destroyed. Although the Greenwood community would rebuild, today Tulsa citizens are reckoning with the past to live in the present.
This month City Editor Morgan Phillips culminates our three-part Greenwood series looking at how the city and its people are exploring the consequences of the destruction. She expertly presents this sensitive topic’s multiple angles in the story that begins on p. 96, with even more conversations on TulsaPeople.com. For nearly a year, Phillips and videographer Greg Bollinger have been working on “Resilient,” a TulsaPeople documentary telling the story of Tulsan Brenda Nails Alford’s family in pre- and post-Massacre Greenwood. We appreciate Alford’s time and grace in letting us tell her family’s story. You can watch the video at TulsaPeople.com.
The Tulsa Race Massacre was a hush-hush topic for decades. Some first-hand accounts were published, but it wasn’t until 1982 when “Death in a Promised Land” by historian Scott Ellsworth would provide one of the definitive accounts of the destruction and its aftermath.
Numerous other tomes and photographic galleries have come to light since then, including numerous local journalistic endeavors — such as TulsaPeople’s Greenwood series in the summer of 2000 — as well as national and international press attention. May 31 and June 1, 1921, also have received attention in creative formats, such as the HBO TV series “Watchmen” and “Lovecraft Country.” As more people learn of the events of those days, in whatever format, more can be done to ensure atrocities like this never happen again.
In nearby Osage County, a similar story is unfolding as the story of David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” is being filmed thanks to some big Hollywood names. Another one of our state’s tragic stories is being spotlighted and teaching others about race relations.
As I write this, the TulsaPeople team is putting the finishing touches on our May issue. As we have produced this magazine, we continuously say how proud we are of this month’s compilation of stories. We’re beginning to arise from our pandemic haze. Summer festivals are on the horizon, and our eyes and ears are poised. Staycation and road trip plans are making us giddy. Breweries, a taco tour of Tulsa and berry season have our bellies aching with temptation.
We wish you the same.