Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street (2021) - full transcript

A documentary celebrating the Black cultural renaissance that existed in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, OK, and investigates the 100-year-old race massacre that left an indelible, though hidden stain on American history.





- In the 1920s there was
a strong Black community

here in Tulsa
called Greenwood.

These people were the core
of Black entrepreneurship.

People call it
the Black Wall Street.

- Greenwood was like putting
Harlem, Bourbon Street,

and Chocolate City
all in one place.

- But white Tulsans
talked about Greenwood

as Little Africa
or Nigger Land.

- Tulsa was a powder keg

needing only something

to set
the community alight.


- Between 100 and 300 people,
most of them Black,

were killed.

- Today, we call it
a mass murder.

They were hastily trying
to get rid of the bodies

by dumping them
in mass graves

around the city.

- We have Tulsans of
an undermined number

who were murdered.

It should not have
taken 99 years.

- Anybody who thinks
that this crime scene

is not gonna speak

doesn't have
the ears to hear.

The ancestors are awake

and the earth is shaking.

[radio tuning]


- Ah, yeah!
So rough, so tough.

For all you people
listening to KBOB 89.9,

located right here
in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

This is where we tell
our stories our way.

We can be talking
about these graves,

you know, here in
Tulsa, Oklahoma,

excavation of these graves,
what it means to us.

I guess I'm gonna
start with you, Kristi.

- Uh-oh.
- Uh-oh.


Kristi Williams.

- I came to Tulsa when
I was in the sixth grade.

So, that's been, whoo!

I don't know
how many years.

My mother is from Oklahoma.

There was a strong
Black community in Tulsa

called Greenwood.

These people were the core
of Black entrepreneurship

and they would help you
get your business started.

I mean, Greenwood
was booming.

People call it
the Black Wall Street.

And when you read
the editorials,

and they would also post
events that were happening.

And I imagine they were
having a great time!



What I love about Greenwood
is what it was.

And I love what
it could be.

But Tulsa has
a truth problem.

Hiding the truth,

and people
who will not challenge

what is perceived
to be truth.

- What's keeping Tulsa
from being

a great shining city
on a hill

is dealing with the legacy

of the so-called
Tulsa race riot of 1921.

White Tulsans
murdered Black folks

and were hastily trying
to get rid of the bodies

by dumping them in mass graves
around the city.

Awful things were done
to get rid of bodies.

In the late 1990s
when Senator Maxine Horner

and my father,
State Representative Don Ross

created the commission
to study

the Tulsa race riot
of 1921,

which brought
historians, consultants

from around the world
who tried to figure out

what happened in 1921.

I had many conversations
with riot survivors.

- Oh!

- It was one of
the proudest moments that

I can remember
of my father.

When I wrote
their first articles,

uh, "South Tulsa Tales
from the Crypt",

I got a lot of attention.

But nothing was done
until 2018

when the story became
a "Washington Post" story

thanks to a reporter
who came to Tulsa

to do a story about
gentrification of Greenwood.

No mayor,
Republican or Democrat,

never thought about
or even touched the story

of the mass graves.

- You hear about, you know,
history being erased

in, you know,
these authoritarian regimes

or something like that.

You can't imagine
that it would happen

right here
in your own hometown

in the middle
of the United States.

And yet, it had.


My name is G.T. Bynum.
I'm the mayor of Tulsa.

I grew up here in Tulsa.

My family has been here
since the 1870s.

My great-great grandfather
was the second mayor of Tulsa.

I heard about the massacre
in 2001 or 2002, maybe.

And I was 24 years old
at this point.

You know, every high school
student in Oklahoma

has to go through
an Oklahoma history course.

It never came up.

My dad had been president of
the Tulsa Historical Society.

It never came up.

Hearing about that,
it was shocking to me

because I love Tulsa.

I couldn't believe that Tulsa
would be the kind of city

where something like that
could happen.

We have Tulsans of
an undetermined number

who were murdered
in this event.

And so, we have
a responsibility, I think,

as a city to try
and find out

where their remains are
and what happened to them.

- You know, our ancestors
literally make up

who and what we are.

We are the physical
manifestation of

our collective ancestors
and their memories.

How can I tap into
his or her brilliance,

their genius,

so that I can really be
the best that I can be?

- I think it's
at Tulsa's best interest

to help heal the wounds,

to go look for our dead

and put them at
a proper rest.

Pay for the damages
and for the lives

that were lost in 1921.

- The city deputized
a lot of white men

during the massacre

who robbed, murdered
a lot of people.

They're accountable.

- The story here is
a story about people.

It's about
the human spirit.

The massacre is a chapter
in a much larger, richer,

more robust narrative.

- Most people you're
going to interview,

you need to ask
this question.

Where are you people from?

And if they say well,
we're from Oklahoma

or Tulsa or Greenwood...

well, when did
they get here?

- Scene Grayson Take 1,
Common Marker, Mid Slate.

- My father,
who's Creek Indian,

was from Oklahoma.

My family is a mixture of
Indian, Black, and white.

And... here I am.

- The story of Oklahoma
really began with

the five civilized tribes
in the 1830s and 1840s.


- The Chickasaws,
the Creeks,

the Cherokee, Choctaw,

and the Seminoles,

called the five
civilized tribes.

They were originally
from the South,

from Alabama, Georgia,
parts of Florida,

Tennessee, Mississippi
and the South Carolina area

where these tribes
owned plantations.

- Civilized really
is a veiled reference

to taking on, accepting
Eurocentric ways.

One of those ways was
a practice of chattel slavery

to boost oneself

- At the Cherokee museum today
are slave Bills of Sale,

including one by then
Principal Chief John Ross.

- I don't ever talk
about it very much

because I think it's
a very shameful part

of, um, of
Cherokee history,

and so I've purposely
avoided involving myself

in that whole issue.

♪ Java man
he made a life ♪

♪ But the mammy
ain't his wife ♪

♪ Choppin' cotton
don't be slow ♪

♪ Better finish out
yo' row. ♪

- Slavery in the five
civilized tribes varied.

What's really important
to remember is that

these people were enslaved.

So, by definition,
it wasn't a good experience

because if you're a slave,

then you don't have
your individual liberty,

which arguably matters
more than anything else.

- Enslaving Black people,

it was part of the economy
of those tribes.

When the Americans now
wanted that land

for their own plantations,

they took the plantations
of the Indians.

This was done in
a legal way...

by passing legislation,

The Indian Removal Act,

the forced migration of
the five civilized tribes

from the Southeastern
United States

into Indian territory,

which is what is
today Oklahoma.

- They said, well,
we're swapping you

this land for the lands
west of the Mississippi

in Indian territory.

You have no choice
but to go.

We know it as
The Trail of Tears.


The slaves that the tribes
didn't sell off,

they brought them on
The Trail of Tears.

So, just like
an oxen or a bull

that was pulling a wagon,

the Black folks was
in the same situation.

They didn't have
a choice.


- The five civilized tribes
officially aligned themselves

with the Confederacy
during the Civil War

because slaves were still
needed to improve

the economic fortunes
of these tribes.

The Confederacy lost,
by the way.

And so, after
the Civil War,

the Federal government
negotiated with these tribes

on treaties generally
referred to

as the Treaties of 1866.


- In Article II of
The Creek Treaty of 1866,

it says that you won't
have slaves anymore.

That's a wrap.

It's not gonna
happen no more.

Those slaves that you have,
they're now your Tribal members.

They're now your citizens.

Black people who had been
with the Indians,

now 10, 15 generations,

either enslaved
or married among them

or their children.

They were called
the Freedmen.

The United States government
forced the Tribes

to divide up this land
with the Freedmen.

- The slaves who belonged
to the Cherokees

could come right back
to the territory

and settle on Indian land.

And when allotment came,

they gave us an equal right
with them in land drawings.

The United States government
forced them to do this,

I have been told.


- Okay, so, on this map,

this is the Creek Nation.

This little yellow spot
up here

is Township Tulsa.

The green area are
the allotments of the Freedmen.

Everybody got 160 acres
if you were full-blood Creek,

if you were full Black
from Africa.

If you were female
you got 160 acres.

The Freedmen allotments
totaled 1,192,240 acres.

One million one hundred--

I really want people
to understand that.

That's a lot of land for
a small geographical area.

It's a lot of land
to own.

The most important part
of the story

of Black people here
in Oklahoma

is the Black land ownership.

- As a descendent of
a Creek Freedmen,

I believe land is power,

land is wealth,

land is really the-the core
of Black entrepreneurship.

- You had two types
of Blacks in Oklahoma.

You had those Freedmen.

Then you had state Blacks.

State Blacks came
to Oklahoma looking

for the promised land.


- There was a movement
called Boosterism

and this began in 1889

using bulletins
and encouraging Black folks

to migrate from
the deep South

to what is now Oklahoma.

The leader of that movement
was a fellow called E.P. McCabe.

He recruited Black people
to come on the theory

that it represented an escape
from the oppressive deep South,

an opportunity
to prosper economically.

- The time will soon come
when we will be able

to dictate the policy of
this territory, or state.

And when that time comes,

we will have a Negro state
governed by Negroes.

We do not wish
to antagonize the whites.

They are necessary
in the development

of a new country.

But they owe my race homes,

and my race owes to itself

a governmental control
of those homes.

- Land meant rebirth.

It meant renewal.
Land meant survival.

There were 40 other
Black townships around Oklahoma.

The whole state.

Not just Tulsa.

- It was the promised land
for a lot of people

coming out of slavery

wanting to escape

and wanting just to raise
their families

in a loving community.

- Freedman had all of
this land with mineral rights

that ultimately made them
very wealthy.

- We put ourselves
in Oklahoma, 1906.

A city called Tulsa.


Tulsa boomed after
the discovery of oil.

Tulsa became the oil capital
of the world.


The oil drew people
really from all over,

seeking fame and fortune.

The population
just mushroomed.


- Back then, people were
moving to the city every day,

whether it's
a sharecropper

leaving some rural
Oklahoma county,

looking for a job
in the oilfields.

Whether it's
a young entrepreneur

who thinks that they can
strike the next one.

People called it
the Magic City

because it just
came out of nowhere.


- Back when I was growing up,

they said
the 1921 race riot

and then they changed it
to massacre.

And I wanted people
to know my mother

was a survivor of that.

A lot of people say,

oh, we didn't know
anything about it.

I always knew about it

because my mother
told me about it.


- Tulsa has seen a lot of
growth in recent years.

Some might even say it's
showing signs of becoming

a destination city.

- Tulsa is a beautiful
little city

that wants to be
a big city.


It's just a little
country town

that had big skyscrapers.

The weather is beautiful.

The cost of living
is wonderful.

People from various
different walks of life.

And I strongly believe
at one time

that we're going
to be the best city

that this world can offer.

Make a left
at the light.

Here we are in the historic
Greenwood community,

AKA the Black Wall Street
of America,

AKA the Negro Wall Street
of America,

AKA my home.

Every day that I've got
money in my pocket,

I go down on Greenwood.

I go get me a haircut.

They give me
the latest scoop,

find out what's going on.

What's up on
Greenwood now?

Yeah, the Tee's Barbershop
is a legacy of my family.

My father got
his hair cut here.

My son got his first haircut
right here.

Well, how long has
a barbershop been on Greenwood?

- The first barbershop
that I'm-- I worked for

was called Mim's Barbershop

and it was in the 1100 block
of North Greenwood.

That was in 1963.

They talking
about Greenwood

and all you can see now
is one block.

But it was businesses
all the way down

from-from Lansing back to
Martin Luther King Drive today.


- 1921.

Greenwood was much larger
than just that one block

that you guys see today.

Greenwood's much larger
to the south,

to the east,

to the west,
and to the north.

But the only thing
we have left

is just a sliver
of its former self.

- Every time somebody comes back
every other 20 years,

there's less and less
of Greenwood.

People come here all the time
and say, is this it?

This is Greenwood?

This is what they've
been talking about? Right?

Everybody wants a community

where they can
grow and prosper

and that dollar
can turn over

So, why wouldn't Black folks
want that for themselves?

- I've been ownin'
Blow Out Hair Studio

for 13 years now.

Greenwood is special.

Once you come down here,
you feel the energy.

I would hate to leave

I will fight tooth and nails
before I leave,

to be honest with you.

- Farmers Insurance
is my first business.

However, I have a studio,

Greenwood Fitness
& Recreational Studio.

You know, we have a debt
to our ancestors here.

You know, we have to bring back
what was once there.

[espresso machine whirring]

And anyone that wants to
do business here

should also be engaged
in that same idea,

that same mentality,
same thought process.

- When I got to Tulsa
in 1984,

I was asked to do a regular
guest editorial column

in the Oklahoma Eagle,

which is
the Black newspaper.

One of my assignments was
to do a historical treatment

of the Greenwood District.

I've had this sort of
obligation of service.

And if I'm going to live
in this community,

I want the community
to be the best it can be.

We can't do that
unless we engage

in the work of
racial reconciliation.

And we can't do that

unless we acknowledge
our history.



A Black man,
the name of O.W. Gurley

came to Oklahoma
from Arkansas.

He bought land.

He sold land to other
African Americas;

established his first
business in 1906.

just proliferated

and they became prosperous,

creating and living

in this insular
economic community

called the
Greenwood District.

The Greenwood District
was Black Main Street.

Mom and pop type operations,
small businesses,

hotels, restaurants,
grocery stores,

theaters, nightclubs.

- You have the offices
of African American lawyers.

There are more than
12 physicians and surgeons

that have their
offices in Greenwood.

- Greenwood had
about 10,000 people.

They were in search
for a way

to be masters
of their own fate.

Today, most of the people
connect to Greenwood

and think
Black Wall Street

and, yes,
that existed here.

You did have people
that were pioneers

and big business tycoons
living in sprawling mansions.


And even most people
who were domestic workers

or owning small shops,

living day to day,

everyone has an opportunity
and their skin color

doesn't limit
their capacity here.

That's what makes
Greenwood really special,

that you have
this safe haven,

that oasis
that existed here.

- This is a special edition
of the events

of the Tulsa Disaster.

Mary Jones Parrish
is very important

because she was hired
within a week or two

of the massacre to collect
stories of people--

of survivors,
including herself.


- On leavin'
the Frisco Station,

goin' north
to Archer Street,

one could see nothin'
but Negro business places.

Goin' east on Archer
for two or more blocks,

there you would behold
Greenwood Avenue,

the Negroes Wall Street.

- Mary Parrish
was a remarkable woman.

Originally from

she had set up
a secretarial school

right on Greenwood Avenue
to teach young women

all of these
different skills

so they could get work
as secretaries

to some of Greenwood's
Black doctors and lawyers.

- This section of Tulsa
was a city within a city.

Every face seemed to wear
a happy smile.


- We're sitting in
the Mackey house.

That's Lucy.

The Mackeys
are really emblematic

of the kind of
middle-class Black person

who lived in
the Greenwood community

during its peak.

But I think if we only
fixate on the things

that are glamorous
and more flattering

and we forget that
the Greenwood District

is a part of the city
called Tulsa.

You have a Black
segregated community

that's not getting its
fair share of tax dollars

for infrastructure
like roads,

like sewer systems,
and things like that.


- There was so much money
in Tulsa these days,

but here's the reality.

Money plays
a complicated role

in the intermingling
between the races.

- Affluence, wealth,

created this tie-in
between Black Tulsans,

white Tulsans,

but it's all about

White Tulsans
talked about Greenwood

as Little Africa
or Negro Land.

- White Tulsans could control
what justice looks like...

could control the narrative,

could control
whatever they want.

[children playing]

- I would say that I had
a very neutral attitude

about Blacks.

We had, uh, Black maids
work for our household,

but I knew that there was
separation of seating--

restaurants, motels.


- Through the years,
I met all sorts of people,

including white people
whose family was in Tulsa

during the people
of the massacre.

You were telling me
that you were born,

uh, in 1915.
- Uh-huh.

Down on 9th and Denver
is where my parents

bought a little house down there
when they got married.

- Did you, as a child,
ever have occasion

to visit the African American
community in Tulsa?

- I-I think that
I would have been, uh,

probably just going
to and from the homes

where our maids lived.

- My mother always
had the colored help.

She just- she got along well
with people and--

- When you say help,
you mean domestic,

as domestic help?

- Yes, domestic help.

- My challenge, my charge
really is to help people

come to grips
with their past,

which is not to say that
every person in America's evil

or every
white person is evil.

It's to acknowledge
a series of systems

that exist here
that advantage some people

and disadvantage
other people.

- We were taught
by innuendo

to dislike
or to actually hate.

I think the thing
that bothered me the most

was not being able
to ask questions

and have a discussion
or hear about it

as just a kid growing up,
a white kid.

- The only reason that
Black Wall Street existed

was because of necessity.

These people were not able
to participate

in the regular economy run
by the dominant culture

because of segregation.

- The vast majority
of people

who lived in Greenwood
were not wealthy.


But they had regular jobs
in the white community

and they had
a regular paycheck

in the white community.

You've got a lot of
well-to-do white Tulsans

who are going to hire
servants, cooks,

domestic workers.

They would collect their
paycheck at the end of the week

and they would spend it
back in Greenwood.

You know, in Tulsa,
like in other southern cities,

African Americans
can't go into a department store

and try on clothes.

But they can shop
in their own neighborhoods.

So, what happens is
the merchants in Greenwood

had this captive population

and the money just flows
and flows and flows.

- And it was successful
because they were supported

by people
who looked like them,

would purchase from them,
do business with them.

- So, there's people that
are living all different lives

and different
social standings

but everyone here
is making a living

whatever way they-
they decide to.

And they're not feeling
the pressures

and the violence
from the outside world.

- I did not grow up here,

and I'd recognized
the importance that it had,

not just for
this community,

but for the country
and also the world.

And I wish that Greenwood
would be a wonderful community

that would radiate
the likeness of the Lord.

- 1920 Greenwood
was booming.


It was a strong community.

- A.C. Jackson was
a prominent Black surgeon.

The Mayo Clinic said
that Dr. A.C. Jackson

was the most able
Negro surgeon in America.

Simon Berry
was a businessman.

His first business
was a jitney service.

A.J. Smitherman
was the editor and publisher

of the Tulsa Star.

His paper included
editorials and articles

really talking about
social justice.

- When you think about

you think about what elegance
and grace looks like.

- By the beginning
of 1917,

I had amassed
quite a fortune.

I owned fifteen
rental houses,

a sixteen room
brick apartment building.

The rental value
was $350 a month.

The income from other sources
were triple.

I had a splendid
bank account

and was living on
the sunny side of the street.

I decided to realize
my fondest hope,

and that was to
erect a large hotel in Tulsa

exclusively for my people.

- J.B. Stradford built
the Stradford Hotel.

- It's 54 rooms
and crystal chandeliers.

- It was acknowledged

in the United States
of America.

It was the crown jewel
of Greenwood.

- Loulah and John Williams,

they were really active
in the community.

Here they had
a rooming house

and a garage
and a confectionary.

Williams Dreamland Theatre
was a grand structure,

really one of the jewels
in the Greenwood community

at the time.

- Imagine putting Harlem,
Bourbon Street,

and Chocolate City
all in one place.

A train stopping
on a Friday night

coming to Greenwood

with excess of 500 people

to listen to
all the greats.


- There are speakeasys,
there are pool halls,

there's a lot of action
going on.

In Greenwood you had
hell on one side

and the holy ghost
on the other.

- The church life in those
days were very strong

and the church
was a source,

not just for God,
but also for community.

[piano playing blues music]


- Well-to-do families,

Black families in Tulsa
would have pianos.

They would have their daughters
take piano lessons.

You might hear
a blues song,

but you might also hear
a Mozart sonata.

[piano playing classical music]

It's part of
the blood of the city.

This is a part of
the heartbeat of the town.

- And the sky was the limit.

There was nothing
that you could not do.

- When thinking about Tulsa

in the early part
of the 20th century,

it's important to remember

where the Greenwood
community is.

It abuts downtown,
separated by the Frisco tracks.

If you live in a society
in which white supremacy

is the prevailing

but you live in a community
in which you can look across

the dividing line,
the Frisco tracks,

and see Black folks
driving nice cars

and wearing fur coats
and living in nice homes,

then it causes
cognitive dissonance,

garden variety jealousy.

That land was desired
by corporate interest

in Tulsa.
We know that.

The idea was to remove
the Black folks from the land,

move them farther north,

and use the land
for what was considered

to be higher
and better purposes.

- Tulsa appears now to be
in danger of losing its prestige

as the whitest town
in Oklahoma.

Does Tulsa wish
a double invasion

of criminal
Negro preachers,

Negro shysters,

crap shooters, gamblers,
bootlegs, prostitutes,

and smart alecks
in general?


- We took Oklahoma history
in the ninth grade.

And in our--
in our textbook,

there was probably a page,
or a page and a half

about the race massacre.

We did not cover that
in class.

I read it because I was
really interested in history

and it was
a real revelation.

It brought home just
how pervasive racism was

in the United States
and in the social system.

- Historians often
refer to the early part

of the 20th century
in America

as the low point of
race relations in America.

- African Americans
are under attack

in all different quarters
in all parts of the Union.

This is an era where
the nature of lynchings

are getting more
and more barbaric.

- Lynching is a form of
domestic terrorism

that targeted primarily
African Americans.

In events to which people
brought their children,

lynching was widespread
in the United States.

That there would be such
a film like "Birth of a Nation"

produced at the time...

neither shocks
nor surprises me.


- "Birth of a Nation",

a landmark film
that came out in 1915.

Black people were-
were portrayed

in a very
demeaning manner.

...the Ku Klux Klan
as heroes.


- "The Birth of a Nation"
attests to the purity

and chastity of white women

and Black men mixing
with white women

is a distinct taboo,

which often did result

in the death
of the Black men.

- The film became,
uh, you know,

pretty much of
a national phenomenon.

President Woodrow Wilson
endorsed it.

It showed all over
the country.

It showed in Tulsa
in the convention hall.

It certainly validated
these ideas.

- How do you survive
if you're a Black person

in America
during this era?

And part of the answer came
through African American

veterans of World War I
who'd fought in combat units

in France
where they were treated

with respect
and with honor.

And they came back
to the United States

and they found none.

- We have Black veterans
in Greenwood.

They fought for
their country,

they fought for
their freedom.

So, when they come home,
they expect to be respected.

But what they come home to
is, again, more Jim Crow laws,

more prejudice,
and more restrictions

on their freedom
that they fought for.

- After World War I,

in uniform being lynched
by white mobs.

It's pretty stunning
and remarkable.

The idea is we're going to
show you what your place is.

We don't care whether
you've fought for the country.

When you're here,
you play by our rules.

- The Ku Klux Klan
is kind of the bogeyman.

I think, especially
as white people,

we load up all the bad stuff
and we attribute it

to this vague group
over here

that we call
the Ku Klux Klan.

Even the people who
considered themselves friends

of the Black people

didn't really consider them
equals in a social way.

I mean, they-
they didn't want them--

they didn't want them killed,
they didn't want them cheated,

they didn't want
their houses burned down

but they didn't want
to sit next to 'em

in the restaurant either.

In those times,

Tulsa was like
a lot of other places.

You had African Americans
who were just sort of tired

of being sent
to the back of the bus,

literally and figuratively.

They were ready
to stand up for their--

for their right.

There had to have been
tension building up.

- The Tulsa Tribune
published a series

of inflammatory articles...

...that really fomented

hostility in the
white community

against the Black community.


Tulsa was a powder keg,

a tinderbox
needing only something

to set the community

- Many years ago,
I was at a cemetery.

I was taking pictures
of the tombstones.

And I heard
this strange noise.


I looked around;
it was nothing there.

Then I heard a "tsshh"
to the right.

Then I heard that same sound
surrounding me.


I ran out of there.

That's when I saw
a flock of redbirds

come out of the trees.

I thought that was

Normally you see
one or two redbirds,

but I never saw
a flock of them

flying together like that.

And I told a good friend
of mine and she said,

you saw redbirds
in a cemetery?

Oh, baby, that's nothin'
but an omen, she said.

That was the spirit
of the dead telling you

to go tell somebody
that they are not at peace.

- The ancestors
are speaking to us.

The ancestors
are throwing clues at us.

We have a responsibility
and an obligation

to find the truth.

- The mass graves

started out in 1997,

with Don Ross,
Kavin Ross' father.

- When he was first told
about the massacre,

my father, he thought
it was just a lie,

that it didn't happen.

It was not
in the history books.

But then in high school,

he heard first-hand
from survivors

who were schoolteachers
at the time

and that was something
that stuck with him

until he got
to the point

where he could do
something about it.

- White political leaders
tried to bury the truth

along with all those
Black victims of the riot.

And they pretty much
succeeded for 76 years

until 1997,

when the state legislature
appointed a commission

of 11 people to finally
uncover the truth

about the horrific
riot of 1921.

- Don Ross went to the governor
and the legislature and said,

we've never had
an official study

of this
little-known event.

- That was inspired by
the Oklahoma City bombing.

Uh, when they said it was
the largest urban disaster

in America, wrong.

Uh, more people were killed
than any such disaster,


- I was asked to be the
historian for the commission.

During that period,
I was thinking

maybe we could use this
to figure out

how many people died
and where they were buried.

- I'm ready.
- Kavin, you good?

- Go ahead.
- Hi, I'm Eddie Faye Gates,

chair of the
Survivors Committee

of the Oklahoma Legislative
Commission to study

the Tulsa Race Riot
of 1921.

- I was a videographer for
the race riot commission report.

I was on it to accompany
Eddie Faye Gates,

who was the commissioner
at the time.

Her job was to record
the testimonies

of the riot survivors.


- We have located fifty-one
actual living riot survivors,

ages 78 to 104.

No research takes the place
of eyewitness testimony,

and that is why this day
is so significant.

Mrs. Simms.

Go on and tell it.

- You will never
forget that riot.

That's something that will be
always in your remembrance.

- This has been the age-old
story here in Tulsa.

I never knew what happened
to my great uncle,

never saw
my great aunt again.

You hear those
stories over the ages.

Folks were coming in
with oral history,

where bodies could
be buried.

- We interviewed over
three hundred Tulsans

to identify what we thought
were three very likely spots

in town where massacre victims
were buried in unmarked graves.

- Clyde Eddy took some
of the same steps today

he first took
78 years ago,

days after
the Tulsa Race Riot.

He was ten at the time,
drawn by the curious sight

of men digging a trench

with large boxes
stacked nearby.

- Clyde Eddy talked about
at the age of ten,

when he was at
the Oaklawn Cemetery,

he saw these giant boxes.

He and his cousin would
go to one of these crates.

- We opened the first box,

and there were, um--
excuse me.

There were three bodies
of Black people.

The stench was terrible.

- There were other boxes.

Lift up the lid,
and that saw that there

was Black folks
inside of that one.

Black people
in a box, dead.

That's something that would be
etched in your mind forever,

and so for him to tell
a story with such conviction.

I said, let's
dig 'em up now.

- So many people have said
there were no bodies there.

But you know,
all the Black folk

in the community,
we believe they're there.

Those stories were
passed on to us.

- Inch by inch,
crews are digging into

the history of
the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Tulsa's mayor, G.T. Bynum,
initiated the investigation

to try and find
if there are any victims

buried in mass graves.

- There was a systematic
cover up of the event.

It should not have
taken 99 years.

- We have to pay attention,

we have to pick up
the charred baton

that has been left
in our hands,

and figure out where
the screams are coming from.


- Monday,
May 30, 1921.

It happened to
be Memorial Day.

- May 30th could have happened
at any point in time

because Tulsa was
already a powder keg.

We do know that
the deathly KKK members

that are part
of the police force,

proudly marching down
the street on Memorial Day.

People describe
it as a massacre,

I've been calling it a war.

- There's systemic causes for
what happened here in 1921,

but you fixate on
this trigger incident

that involved a Black boy
and a white girl on an elevator.

The teenage boy is a boy
named Dick Rowland.

He's at work
on Memorial Day,

shining shoes
in Downtown Tulsa.

- Dick Rowland was
nineteen years old

in the spring of 1921.

He worked in
a white-owned

and white-patronized
shine parlor

on Main Street
in Downtown Tulsa.

- His nickname
is "Diamond Dick"

so he's known to be
this flashy young guy.


He is just another person
in the community

that everyone knows,

but he's-he's never been
seen as a troublemaker.

- There's not
a restroom facility

in the shine parlor,

so the white owner
has arranged for them

to walk down Main Street
to the Drexel Building.

On the fourth floor there was,
quote, "a colored restroom".

Something happens when
he enters the elevator.

Elevators are-are manually
operated by a wheel,

it takes a great amount
of skill to get the floor

of the elevator
and the actual floor to line up.

That particular elevator
was very difficult to center,

so the belief is,

that as Dick walked
onto the elevator,

he tripped and just,
by reflex,

threw his hands out
to cushion the fall,

that he grabbed Sarah
by the shoulder,

ripped her dress,
she screams,

and he realizes this
is a dangerous moment for him,

and he runs out
of the elevator

and takes off.

But there was a white clerk
at the Renberg's Clothing Store

who heard the scream,

saw Dick run out
of the building,

and in his mind he puts
two and two together,

and says, "This is
an interracial rape attempt."

The Tulsa Police
are summoned,

but they don't put out
an all-points bulletin

for Dick Rowland,

they don't go
searching for him.

They're not particularly
worried about this event.

However, the Tulsa Tribune,

Tulsa's white daily
afternoon newspaper,

decides to portray
this incident

in a completely
different light.

- The "Tribune"
published an account

of the elevator
incident entitled,

"Nab Negro for Attacking Girl
In an Elevator".

The "Tribune" essentially
claimed that Dick Rowland

tried to rape Sarah Page
in broad daylight

in a public building
in Downtown Tulsa.

The article went
out of its way

to make Sarah Page
look virtuous,

and, as a corollary, to make
Dick Rowland look villainous,

playing on that
white female,

Black male taboo.

- So the next morning,
Tuesday, May 31st,

the Tulsa Police decide,

"We're gonna pick up
Dick Rowland".

So they go to where he lives
with his mother in Greenwood,

arrest him,

take him to
the courthouse, and like,

as with other prisoners,
put him up on the--

in the fourth floor jail.

The first edition
of the "Tulsa Tribune"

hits the streets
around 3:00, 3:30.

Within thirty minutes
there's lynch talks

on the streets of Tulsa.

Lynch talk soon turns
into a lynch mob.

Meanwhile, Black people
are trying to figure out

what's going on,
what to do,

how to organize.

On the stage
of the Dreamland Theatre,

an African-American
World War I Vet

jumps up on the stage and says,
"Shut this place down.

"We ain't gonna let
this happen here."

"It" being a lynching.

There was a feeling
amongst Black vets

that if trouble comes my way,
I ain't dodgin' it.

In Tulsa there had not been
an African-American lynched,

and there were Black men
and women who were prepared

to make sure that
didn't happen.

Around 10:30 at night
or a little before then,

a rumor gets greenlit

that whites are
storming the jail.

African-American men,

all armed,
drive to the courthouse.

They march up
to the courthouse,

they go up to the sheriff,

who's waiting for them
on the steps,

and they say, "We are here
to help to protect the prisoner

"if you need our help."

Sheriff McCullough says,
"Get the hell out of here,

"I don't want you."

[crowd yelling]

As they are leaving,
an elderly white man

goes up to
a tall Black vet,

and says, "Where you goin'
with that gun?"

And the vet says, "I'm gonna
use it if I need to."

The white man says,
"Like hell you are."

Tries to get the gun,
there's a struggle,

a shot goes off.

[gun shot]

The worst incident
of racial violence

in American history begins.

- As the evening starts
to fall, May 31st,

by seven o'clock there
are already hundreds of people

circling around
the courthouse.

By nine, ten is where
things really start to reach

this sort of, uh boiling point,
and shots are fired.

At the same time all this
is happening downtown.

You have people that
are still waiting

to go to their prom
at Booker T. Washington.

You have people that
are still going to movies

in the Dreamland
and the [indistinct] Theater.

You have people that are still
moving about their lives

that aren't aware
of what's happening.

- We went down to
a late show, movie.

Somebody came in and shouted,
"Nigger fight! Nigger fight!"

We went out the door
and just got there

when a Negro ran out
of the alley.

The minute his head
showed outside,

somebody shot him.

And, uh, this man
was shot and rolled out

in the middle of the street
with a revolver in his hand.

And this crowd around him
wouldn't let anybody touch him,

pick him up, wouldn't let
an ambulance take him.

But he was the first man
that was shot in the riot.

- Nobody cares about
Dick Rowland anymore.

The white mob is now out
to get any Black person

in their sights.

- The teeming white mob
spilled over the Frisco tracks

into the Greenwood community...

- ...carrying rifles,

matches, and cans
of gasoline.


- In the words of one of
the massacre survivors,

"All hell broke loose."



burning, destroying
everything in sight.

- People are taking
shelter in their homes

or packing up
their stuff and fleeing,

whatever they can.

- My Mother said,
"Here they come,

"here they come."

And they came in
the house with torches

and they set
the house on fire.

Oh, it was like a nightmare.
Everything was in flames.

- On the evening
of May 31st,

my little girl
had not retired

but was watching the people
from the window.

She said, "Mother,
I see men with guns."

Then I ran to the window
and looked out.

There I saw many people
gathered in little squads,

talking excitedly.

There was a great shadow
in the sky,

and upon second look
we discerned that this cloud

was caused by
fast-approaching airplanes.

It then dawned
upon us that the enemy

had organized in the night
and was invading our district

the same as the Germans
invaded France.

I took my little girl,
Florence Mary,

by the hand and fled out
the West door on Greenwood,

running amidst
showers of bullets.

- I was so afraid,

because bullets were
coming down around us.

All of the planes
were up in the air,

shooting down, and I could
hear those bullets falling.

There were a lot
of people running,

dodging the bullets,
and just afraid.

- They're shooting people
on sight,

even if you're complying
with their demands.

That's what happened
to Dr. A.C. Jackson.

- A.C. Jackson was
a prominent Black surgeon,

he was accosted
at his home,

he exited his house
in compliance

with the demands
of the mobsters,

hands held high.

But he was actually gunned
down by a young white man

and he ultimately
bled to death.

Black men put up
a vigorous, robust defense.

They were outgunned,
and outnumbered,

and overmatched.

The violence
lasted sixteen hours,

a unit of the National Guard
sent in from Oklahoma City.


When the dust settled,
at least 1,250 homes

in the Black community
were destroyed.

Between 100 and 300 people,
most of them Black,

were killed.


- So twenty years ago,

we had a mayor here
that said, "Hey.

"We're gonna go into Oaklawn
and were gonna excavate,

"because we have an idea
of where some bodies might be."

- We brought in ground
penetrating radar;

they showed that there were
anomalies in these areas.

- I was twenty years younger,
standing out in Oaklawn.

We were all out there,

but we were about
to do this, right?

They called it
off abruptly

because there was
a white family

that did not want
that area to be disturbed.

They suggested that
there was a, perhaps,

a white body that
was buried underground

and that that body
would have been disturbed

as you're looking
for race massacre dead.

- Our effort got
caught up in politics.

- A bunch of lawmakers,

they pretty much
didn't really care.

It made the state
look bad.

- I am thoroughly convinced

that the state of Oklahoma
was not culpable.

- We were shut down
by the City of Tulsa,

and at that point,
I, you know,

I thought the ballgame
was over.

- For some people it's like,

"Why are you guys
desecrating the grave?"

- Right.
- We're not
desecrating graves,

we're finding out the truth.
- And those answers--

ancestors had never
had a proper burial.

- Absolutely.

- I was on the City Council
at the time.

Years later,
a local journalist--

- My name's Lee Roy Chapman,
and this is "Public Secrets".

- He did a video series
about Tulsa's hidden secrets.


And one of them,
I was watching...

- Um, Oaklawn Cemetery
has been rumored

for nearly a hundred years
to be the, uh,

location of a mass grave,

uh, attributed to
the Tulsa Race Riot.

- What's my
immediate reaction?

There is no way that
could possibly be true.

The mass grave
in Oaklawn cemetery,

where my great grandparents
are buried,

and that no one would have
ever bothered to look.

This is a historic day
for Tulsa and for our country

as we begin a test excavation
in Oaklawn Cemetery.

- There's nothing abstract,
there's nothing theoretical.

This is not
a research project.

This is an investigation.

- Scientists are set to
finally break ground

in the effort to find victims
of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

- Nearly 100 years later,
the families to victims

of the 1921 Tulsa
Race Massacre

could get answers
and closure.

- It should have been done
well before now,

but it wasn't.

That is a baton that's
been handed to us,

and it is--
it is not an easy race.

The initial excavation will
be focused on a location

within Oaklawn Cemetery that
we felt had a high likelihood

for encountering
a mass grave.

We focused on
an anomaly,

uh, that had
been detected.

That anomaly to us
was an indication

that it was possibly
a mass grave.

As we were excavating down,
we very quickly realized

that we had materials
that didn't really belong there.

- The search turned up
many old artifacts,

but after reaching three
and a half meters in depth,

the excavation was
called off on Wednesday.

- We do not have indications
of a mass grave, um,

in this portion
of Oaklawn Cemetery.

There is a-a heavy weight
of responsibility

that comes with trying
to assist in this effort.

There is that
sense of optimism

that comes from the fact
that the investigation

has been reopened.

But you-you also are
worried because it has--

there's a perpetual feeling

that the other shoe
is gonna fall,

and this expectation
of disappointment.

But it's extremely important
to remember why we're there

and who we're
trying to find.

- Sometimes stuff just makes
you want to just give up,

but other times those
are those times like,

no, you keep going,

'cause the ancestors are
not gonna let you give up,

they're gonna
keep pushing you.

When you say you quit,
they say, "No, you don't",

it puts you right back up
and do it all over again.

- That's why
it's cold today.

The ancestors are like,

"You're gonna feel the chill
of my bones today, man."

- Ooohh.
- Yes.

- Ooohh.

- That's what-that's
what they want us to feel.

They want everybody to feel
what that feels like.

- There's all kinds
of good things

that you find
in South Tulsa.

You'll find computer stores,
you'll find bookstores,

you'll find
twenty-four hour pharmacy,

you'll find
health food stores.

None of those things
can be found in North Tulsa.

North Tulsa's a food desert,
and that's got to change.

- One of the things that
people don't generally know

is that the Greenwood community
actually came back

after it was destroyed.

- It was rebuilt because
the rural community, uh,

rural lands were still
owned mostly by Black folk.

But by the 1960s,

these towns started
to disappear.

- There is this idea that
Greenwood was destroyed in 1921,

and that's the end
of the story.

But there's 100 years after that
that we need to talk about.

- Tulsa is just a tale
of two cities.

North Tulsa's a predominantly
African-American community.

And South Tulsa you have
predominantly white community.

This city of Tulsa is
the most segregated city,


socially, and all
of the above.

- Growing up in North Tulsa,

I started to notice
buildings looked different,

looked different.

Wow, there's
a whole 'nother world

I wasn't even aware of.

We've already
experienced dislocation,

urban removal,

eminent domain,

all of those things.

Those people who lived in
Greenwood saw its demise twice.

[explosion rumbling]

- The people who have lived in
an urban center for many years

certainly do have rights.

However, they do not
have the right to frustrate

the creative efforts of
very diligent people

who are trying
to bring back

vitality, and wholeness,
and beauty into the city.

- I grew up at
1415 North Greenwood.

We owned the house
on Greenwood.

When I grew up, I had
a church in front of me,

right literally behind me
was the school that I went to,

to my right was
the Black hospital

that I was born in,
that was Morton Hospital,

and then we had
Jack's Memory Chapel

right there,
so the whole cycle of life

was right within a block
and a half of me where I lived.

That's the community
I grew up in.

As happened in every city
across this nation

in the sixties, seventies,

there was something
called urban,

what they call renewal,
what I call urban removal.

Yeah, I love that.

Yeah, when they want
to talk about Black folks,

right, instead of saying,
"Black folks live over here.

"That's the urban area."

"That's urban music."

Just call things
as they are.

- To whites,
the words urban renewal

have a promising,
hopeful sound.

But to Blacks,
they mean move out.

In a block like this,
as many as a thousand men,

women, and children
have been forced out

in the name of some
progress yet to come.

- So urban renewal was coming
through telling you all,

"Those houses that
you're living in here,

"we have a better use"
as they say,

"a greater use
for this land."

And they tell you,

"We're gonna renew
your community,

"and this is gonna be better
then you left it."

They moved us out of our houses
for the "greater good".

We were dislocated
from our home.

And when I tell you
there's still a big space

at 1415 North Greenwood,

nothing was ever built there,
but they told us we had to go.

And then you saw
the decline of Greenwood

as you saw folks moved out
of their homes.

- The reason and the causes
of this economic downturn

was the construction
of the Crosstown Expressway

that cut through
the heart of Greenwood.

In fact, they took
the heart out.

Urban renewal and this
major highway construction

really took out the--
most of the entrepreneurial,

uh, businesses
that were there.

- Just this area's changed
a lot with the, uh--

uh, Crosstown coming through.

Hasn't a lot
of the business moved out?

- That's correct.

- What happened in Tulsa

happened all over
the United States.

Highways were located
right through the heart

of communities of color.

- I started photographing
back in 1969

here at North Tulsa,
the Greenwood area.

And what I saw in
the Greenwood area was that

there were a lot of businesses
that were closing up.

One of those photographs
that I took on Greenwood,

he was a tall gentle,
and erect proud Black man,

I call it Baltimore Barbershop
that I took in 1970.

He went to the window
and started

looking out the window,
and what he saw was

bulldozers tearing down
buildings in front of him.

And I asked him
what he thought about that,

and he said, "Well, I think
I'm gonna be next."

So I took his photograph

and, uh,
the next day I came back,

sure enough,
his business was gone

and so was he.

Most of the businesses
in that area were boarded up,

and all that remained
was a [indistinct]

of Black Wall Street.

It was no longer
Black Wall Street,

it was a ghost town.


- Oh man, I tell ya...

- We owned
a skating rink there.

During the riot
it got burned down,

our home got burned down.

We lost all of this--
our property, our home.

- Every church,
our schoolhouses was blown up.

People were killed,
and you go in

and see the people mangled.

And then some people
you never heard of anymore of,

you don't know where they--
whether they were killed,

whether they'd just left town.

- On the morning of June 1st,
after the massacres,

the National Guard
and some police

and maybe some civilians
began rounding up

all of the African-American
population in Greenwood

that they-that they could.

There were between five and
seven thousand people detained.

And the reason given
for that was that

it was for
their own protection,

that they were gonna be put
some place safe.

Everybody who was still
in custody

was moved to the fairgrounds
east of Greenwood.

They set up cots
in a kitchen,

they dug latrines.

The people who stayed there
were expected to work.

The women would
prepare the meals,

the men were sent out to work
cleaning up Greenwood.

- Folks in these
internment camps

had to have a green card.

- I don't know how they got
these little cards

printed so fast,

but everybody had
a little I.D. card,

school children and all,
told what you did,

and you had to have
that little I.D.

wherever you went.

- And to get out of these
internment centers,

they needed to be countersigned
by a white person.

Essentially, a white person
would vouch for them

and get them out of
these internment centers.

The theory at--
by the authorities

was that this was done
to protect people

from physical harm
in a context of

this chaotic situation.

There wasn't a lot of
justification that was needed

because who has power
and who doesn't?

- The people who had homes
to go to went to those homes.

Some people left town.

The Red Cross
was operating out of

Booker T. Washington
High School,

and the Red Cross would buy them
a train ticket

if they wanted to leave town.

- I found that
the high school building

was still standing.

I saw a big white streamer
with a red cross on it.

I felt pangs of joy,
for this meant to me

that I was getting in close
touch with friends again.

I breathed a prayer
of thanks.

- The Red Cross began
obtaining these tents

that people could live in.

- Many Black families
spent days, weeks, months

living in tent cities
on the charred earth.

- Everything they had was gone,
and they were expected

to immediately
just go about their lives

like nothing had happened.

Y-You have to think
the trauma was-was terrible.

- When we reaching the house,
I saw my piano

and all my elegant furniture
piled in the street.

My safe had been broken open,
all my money stolen,

all my silverware,
cut glass,

all my family clothing,

and everything of value
had been removed,

even my family Bible.

Our car was stolen

and most of my large rugs
were taken.

I lost seventeen houses
that paid me an average

of over $425 per month.


- Riot is a term of art, really.

These events
throughout the nation

during this period were called
"Race Riots".

And it's significant in part
because insurance polices,

for example,
during that period

often had
exclusionary clauses.

And so if your damage
was occasioned by riot

or civil unrest,

the insurance company
didn't have to pay.

One of the things
we know is that

a number of people in the mob

that destroyed
the Greenwood community

were deputized by
local law enforcement officers;

much of that was done
by a wink and a nod.

Those people knew that
they were not going to be

impeded by
law enforcement.

The massacre was referred to,
in some documents,

as a Negro uprising,
which suggests that

the Black community's
to blame.

- In the immediate aftermath
there was a grand jury,

and it indicted,
I think it's 88 people.

Some of whom were white,
most of whom were Black.

- First was the indictment
of J.B. Stradford

who owned a hotel
and was a lawyer.

A.J. Smitherman was the editor
and publisher of

"The Tulsa Star",

which is the leading
Black newspaper.

He, along with a number
of other Black men

was indicted
for inciting a riot.

- Let the blame for
this Negro uprising

lie right where it belongs:
on those armed Negroes

and their followers
who started this trouble

and who instigated it.

And any persons who seeks
to put half the blame

on the white people
are wrong.

- It is one of the big ironies
of-of all of this

that the two people
who are most often seen

at the center of it
are two people

that we know very,
very little about.

Sarah Page left
the day after the massacre.

She left town
and never came back

as far as we know.

Dick Rowland, it appears,
remained in jail

through the summer
and then was released.

In September,
the county attorney said

he'd received a letter
from Sarah Page

asking not to press charges.

People had really
lost interest in it.

- No white person's
ever held accountable

for the some 100 to 300 deaths
that we believe occurred, uh,

during the massacre.

- I've never spoken to
a white Tulsan

who would admit to be
a member of the mob

during the riot.

And one reason is simply this:

there's no statute
of limitations on murder.

These homicides have now entered
the historic realm,

they can no longer
be prosecuted,

there's no one left
to prosecute.

- The massacre destroyed
the superstructure,

but miraculously
the basement survived.

This is a picture
of the basement.

So this picture was taken
August 1921,

and the massacre happened
May 31st through June 1st.

People came and hid
in our basement

during the massacre.

You see ashes
above every window piece

except the back window.

So this is the space
where that window frame

that we saw
that had no ash on top of it,

it's still right there.

If you can imagine people
being in this room

not knowing if the fire
would somehow come through

or come from above,

but they managed to survive
in this space.

When I learn about bodies
being dumped in mass graves

and not ever receiving
a proper burial,

that touched me as a pastor
on a visceral level.


As a pastor,
when you bury somebody

it's more than just
giving a eulogy.

When we do what we call
the committal,

which is that ashes to ashes,
that dust to dust

over their bodies,

that is our way of
spiritually releasing them

to go wherever
they're going.

And to deny that to the people
that were dumped or killed

during the race massacre
is evil!

It shows you that
at that time period

people didn't even care about
the souls of Black folks,

let alone their bodies.

I believe there is
no expiration date on morality,

and if it was wrong in 1921

and that it has not
been repaired for today,

then we ought to
do something about it.

- One of the most basic,
I think, responsibilities

that a city has to
the residents who live there

is if you're murdered,
we'll do everything we can

to try to find out
what happened to you,

to find your remains
for your family,

and to render justice for you
and your family.

- It makes me feel, um,

kind of like Charlie Brown said,
"good grief."

Because it's good that
we unveiled the story,

but it's grief to us
as we unveil it.

Tell it right.

They took those planes
from that oil field

and they planned
an aerial attack,

and that's what
makes it different

from all the other
race riots in America.

Tell it right.

They bombed us,
they bombed us.


- There's something
very spiritual

about this work.

And anybody who thinks
that this sacred ground

that we find ourselves on,

this crime scene
that we find ourselves on

is not gonna speak,
doesn't have the ears to hear.


- Kavin Ross talks about
the redbirds.

He says that they are
the spirits of our ancestors.

Monday morning,
I went out to my garden,

and as I stepped
on my back porch,

I saw a whole bunch of redbirds,
and they were looking at me.

And I ran in here
to get my phone,

"Kavin, I gotta tell you
the story of what happened

"with the redbirds."

He said, "Girly, come"--
he says girly.

"Girly, come get your butt
down here to the cemetery."

Well, I knew something huge
is gonna happen from that,

and it did.


- I'm here
to report an update.

I can confirm that
we have identified, um,

a large hole that
had been excavated

and into which
several individuals,

um, have been placed.

This constitutes
a mass grave.

- Tonight scientists
believe they have found

evidence of a mass grave
in Oklahoma.

- More than a year
after work had started

at Oaklawn Cemetery,
the team found human remains.

- Today is a significant moment
in the history of our city

in trying to do right
by the victims of this event.

- When I heard that
they found twelve bodies,

I said, "Finally! Finally!"

It's no longer folklore,
it's no longer a rumor,

it's true.

And that's going
just to be

the beginning of justice.

- People in this community
who've been saying

that bodies were dumped
in mass graves,

their stories
have now been vindicated.

Gets us one step closer
to giving their families

the opportunities
to have the truth be known

and actually give them
a proper burial.

- This is all part of
a-a mission

to get back what was lost.

We've lost a lot of history,
we've lost a lot of testimony,

we've lost a lot
of known heritage

that could have been
passed down

because it wasn't safe
to talk about for so long.

- Nobody said
nothing until now.

We're just now
talking about it.

- Growing up,
old folks have talked,

and they actually kind of hid
a lot of stuff from us.

- Staying quiet was
one of those ways

of protecting yourself.

It's kind of in
the back of your mind,

could this happen again?

What can I do to prevent this
from happening again

for my children?

- That is another part
of trauma,

the silence that it creates.

And while people
were murdered

and we need to acknowledge that
and we need to find them,

we also need to talk about
how they lived.

We need to talk about
what they built,

we need to talk
about what's left behind

and tell that story,

because that story
lasts for a hundred years,

the massacre was two days.

- Hut, hut.
Come on, boy.

Hut, hut, hut.


People say,
"Why don't you leave here?"

Because the memory
of something

that I will never see
anywhere else is still here.

And these pages contain
all of the photographs

of my ancestors
who lived on Greenwood.

The memory,
we're connected to our memories.

Olivia Hooker,
who was a survivor,

was a really beautiful soul.

- At that night
of the massacre, Olivia Hooker,

who was a six-year-old girl,
saw her own home ripped apart.

White folks
came into her house,

destroyed her piano
with a hatchet,

and when they left,
she went over there

and they struck the keyboard,
and there was still sound

coming out of that piano.

That's who Greenwood is.

You might destroy
the outside of me,

you might shoot me,
you might burn me,

you're not gonna
destroy my soul.

We still got a song to sing.


- We have these cycles
of Greenwood being built,

destroyed, rebuilt.

If you look at it
all together

in a 100 year journey...

it's a consistent
story of resilience.

- We are so close
to getting over this madness.

In time, we can go on
to be a great city

that we are destined to be.

- There's a resilience
that our people have.

The people here in Tulsa
have kept the story alive.

We know with our people,
it's never the end.


- My dreams of
what Greenwood should look like,

it should look like us.

- My hope for Greenwood
is that she can become

back what she used to be.

- I wish Greenwood
would be healed.

A lot of stuff
was buried deep.

- My dream is to have
a replicate

of what we had in 1921

with all
the Black businesses,

everybody supporting each other.

- We are the youngest
business owners on Greenwood.

I would like to see
young people, you know,

Black Wall Street.

- Let there be
some type of closure

and some type of life back here
that we're enjoying.

- We need to reclaim
what was ours

from the beginning.

Our people built
Black Wall Street

by hard work and dedication,

we did it one time,
we can do it again.

- Greenwood can be that again,

we can be
all that we wanna be.