In 1921, Tulsa’s prosperous Greenwood District was burned to the ground by a racist mob, killing hundreds of innocent Black people. And while some Oklahomans remembered the story and some Black History scholars preserved the narrative, for many, what happened to Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street” has been a lost chapter of American history.
Now, as The Root reports, “perhaps pushed into action by the renewed interest in that time period, courtesy of HBO’s hit series Watchmen, school districts in the state are finally ready to address what Sen. Kevin Matthews calls, “Tulsa’s dirty secret.”
Jay Connor writes: “Deborah A. Gist, the superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, admitted that despite being a student of the same school system she now oversees, she never learned about the massacre herself until she became an educator. ‘What I’m deeply committed to in Tulsa Public Schools is making sure that never happens again,’ she said.”
While it’s frustrating that this important history stayed submerged for so long, and perhaps not entirely satisfying that a popular television series was what it took to get more people to acknowledge the story, as Connor puts it, “it’s a step in the right direction that at the very least provides both students and parents with a gateway to educate themselves further on a gruesome chapter of Black history.”