Teaching About the Tulsa Race Massacre With The New York Times

Students in U.S. excessive faculties can get free digital entry to The New York Times till Sept. 1, 2021.

Lesson Overview

Featured Article: “What the Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed”

One hundred years in the past, a white mob in Tulsa, Okla., attacked and destroyed Greenwood, a neighborhood that had been one in every of the most affluent Black communities in the nation. The mob’s anger was partly a response to Black Tulsans who had come downtown to forestall a lynching, however extra broadly it was impressed by a way of rage at the success of the Greenwood neighborhood.

The New York Times pieced collectively archival maps and pictures to assemble a Three-D mannequin of Greenwood — residence of “Black Wall Street” — because it was earlier than the violence and destruction in May 1921. In this lesson, college students will discover the neighborhood and find out about the devastating race riot. In the Going Further part, we offer three instructing concepts that invite college students to discover the New York Times archive from 1921, contemplate what justice ought to appear like now and focus on the significance of historical past and reminiscence.


The New York Times Graphics Desk spent months making an attempt to recreate what was misplaced in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Before you dive into the complete interactive, begin by slowly scrolling by the very starting till you attain the article’s headline “What the Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed.”

What do you discover about the opening textual content? What do the two sentences (copied under) reveal for you? What questions do they elevate for you?

A century in the past, a affluent Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Okla., perished at the fingers of a violent white mob.

The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 killed a whole bunch of residents, burned greater than 1,250 properties and erased years of Black success.

What about the opening graphics — what do you discover?

Now predict: What do you assume the remainder of the interactive shall be like? What form of journey will it take the reader on? What data will it talk?

Questions for Writing and Discussion

The featured interactive article is split into 5 sections. Use the information under as you learn the article and reply the questions:

I. Introduction

1. In the first two paragraphs of the introduction, the authors invite the reader to think about:

Imagine a group of nice potentialities and prosperity constructed by Black individuals for Black individuals. Places to work. Places to dwell. Places to study and store and play. Places to worship.

Now think about it being ravaged by flames.

Start by doing that: Close your eyes and picture that scene. Then contemplate: Why do you assume the authors requested readers to do this? Do you assume it’s an efficient writing technique? Why?

2. The authors describe Greenwood as “a fully realized antidote to the racial oppression of the time.” What does that assertion imply? What particulars do the authors present to help that characterization?

Three. What is supposed by the sentence “The destruction of property is only one piece of the financial devastation that the massacre wrought”? Choose one statistic or citation from the introduction that illustrates that time in a significant approach.

II. The Marquee Block

four. Navigate down the 100 block in Greenwood, also called the “marquee block.” What do you discover about the companies and shops, in addition to the professionals and entrepreneurs who lived and labored there? What stands out? How do you assume residents or guests might need felt strolling down these streets?

III. A City Within a City

5. This part is titled “A City Within a City.” In what methods was Greenwood in 1921 a metropolis inside a bigger metropolis? How does the interactive illustrate the results of the “economic detour” described by Hannibal B. Johnson, an writer and the schooling chair for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission?

IV. The Massacre That Ended It All

6. According to the article, what was the occasion that mobilized the white mob? Then contemplate the bigger context of racism at the time. Why may white Tulsans have focused the group of Greenwood, “where Black success embodied the American dream,” with such brutality and violence?

7. How did you’re feeling as you learn this part that describes the bloodbath intimately? Did sure photographs or statistics stand out to you? Choose one quantity, phrase or citation from this part that you just discovered highly effective.

V. What Was Lost

eight. What occurred to the survivors of the bloodbath? What was the affect on them emotionally and financially by property loss and racist insurance policies? What help, if any, have been they given?

9. What do the authors imply in writing, “The final insult of the massacre came in the silence”? In what methods is the silence an “insult”? Use examples from the article to help your reply. Why do you assume this historical past isn’t extra extensively mentioned? What are the repercussions of not sharing this historical past?

10. In the introduction, Brenda Nails-Alford, whose grandfather’s store was destroyed, requested, “What if we had been allowed to maintain our family business?” After studying the article, what do you assume? How may she and different descendants of Greenwood have skilled the world in another way if their ancestors had not been sufferer to the riots?

11. What is your response after studying the article? What are you pondering or feeling?

Going Further

Option 1: Explore authentic reporting from the Tulsa Massacre.

The New York Times first reported on the Tulsa Massacre on June 2, 1921. Start by the headline from that day: “85 Whites and Negroes Die in Tulsa Riots as 3,000 Armed Men Battle in Streets” (PDF). What do you discover about the language and framing of what occurred as it’s articulated in the headline? If you have been studying the paper in 1921, what would you may have first assumed occurred?

What assumptions may you may have made about the occasion based mostly on the phrase “riot” versus “massacre”? How does this distinction in language change your understanding of the occasions?

Now learn the featured article (PDF) from June 2, 1921, that particulars what occurred, based on New York Times reporters. As you learn, you may focus on the questions under in pairs or teams.

Who created this text? Who is the meant viewers? How may completely different readers have responded to the language, framing and evaluation?

When and the place was the article initially created? What, if something, are you aware about the circumstances below which it was created?

In your personal phrases, what does this text say? What do you assume are the most essential factors in it? What views, opinions and voices are included? What views are neglected?

How would you describe the language and tone of the article? Is one particular person or group depicted as initiating motion versus receiving motion or defending? How does this have an effect on or change the narrative?

Reflect on the interactive article you learn on this lesson. In what methods does this text from 1921 correspond with the data in the interactive? In what methods is it completely different? How do you’re feeling about The Times’s authentic reporting on the Tulsa bloodbath?

Option 2: What does justice for the victims and their descendants appear like?





Survivors of Tulsa Race Massacre Testify in Congress

Survivors of the 1921 riot, which left a whole bunch of Black residents lifeless, shared their tales earlier than a House Judiciary subcommittee and requested members of Congress to assist them safe justice.

“I’m a survivor of the Tulsa race massacre. Two weeks ago, I celebrated my 107th birthday. Today, I’m visiting Washington, D.C., for the first time in my life. I’m here seeking justice. And I’m asking my country to acknowledge what happened in Tulsa in 1921. I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. I still see Black men, see them being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I hear the screams. I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.” “Because of the massacre, my family was driven out of our home. We were left with nothing. We were made refugees in our own country. The Tulsa race massacre is a footnote in the history books for us. We live with it every day.” “It seems like justice in America is always so slow or not possible for Black people. I am asking you today to give us some peace, for some peace. Please give me, my family and my community some justice. Thank you.”

Survivors of the 1921 riot, which left a whole bunch of Black residents lifeless, shared their tales earlier than a House Judiciary subcommittee and requested members of Congress to assist them safe justice.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

This month the House Judiciary Committee held a listening to in Washington about the bloodbath. Watch the video above of the three identified remaining survivors — Viola Ford Fletcher, 107, Hughes Van Ellis, 100, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106 — testifying with their accounts of the assault.

What stands out to you about their testimony?

The Times studies:

The survivors are amongst the plaintiffs who’ve sued the metropolis of Tulsa, claiming the metropolis and the Chamber of Commerce tried to cowl up the assaults and deform the narrative of what had occurred, deflecting blame onto the Black victims and depicting them as instigators. They search punitive damages, tax aid and scholarships for survivors and their descendants, together with precedence for Black Tulsans in awarding metropolis contracts.

Do you imagine the victims of the Tulsa bloodbath and their descendants are owed something? If so, why? How ought to they be compensated? If not, why not?

In her testimony, Ms. Randle stated:

“People in positions of power, many just like you, have told us to wait,” she stated. “Others have told us it’s too late. It seems that justice in America is always so slow, or not possible for Black people. And we are made to feel crazy just for asking for things to be made right.”

What is your response to her assertion? Is it “too late” to ask for justice?

Option Three: Discuss the significance of historical past and reminiscence.

“The massacre lay hidden for decades. Educators did not teach it. Government offices did not record it. Even archival copies of some newspaper accounts were selectively expunged,” Ben Fenwick writes in “The Massacre That Destroyed Tulsa’s ‘Black Wall Street.’”

Recently, there have been efforts to unearth this historical past, together with the excavation of an unmarked mass grave of the victims; a dedication to instructing about the bloodbath in Tulsa’s faculties; and the development of a brand new historical past middle devoted to Greenwood.

Discuss the following questions along with your class:

Why do you assume this historical past has been “willfully buried” for thus lengthy? Why do you assume that the individuals of Tulsa, and even some descendants of the victims of the bloodbath, didn’t find out about this occasion that destroyed a whole group?

What is the significance of figuring out the historical past of the Tulsa bloodbath? What could be gained from excavating the previous now — and ensuring that Tulsans and the remainder of the nation know what occurred 100 years in the past?

Who has traditionally gotten to inform (or not inform) this historical past? From what perspective have these tales been advised? Who ought to inform this historical past?

How do you assume this occasion needs to be remembered and memorialized? Should college students find out about the bloodbath in faculties? Should there be monuments, gathering locations and museums devoted to the victims and their descendants? What different concepts are you able to provide you with?

What connections are you able to make between what occurred in Tulsa 100 years in the past and what’s occurring in America right this moment? How can confronting this historical past assist us handle the problems with racism and racial justice we at the moment face?

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