Nearly a century after the U.S. witnessed one of the worst racial massacres in American history, Oklahoma’s education department has decided to add that tragic chapter in history to its school curriculum.
The 1921 Tusla Race Massacre happened on May 31 when a white mob of nearly 10,000 people descended on the Greenwood District — then an affluent Black neighborhood known as Black Wall Street – and burned it to the ground, killing hundreds of African Americans.
This dark event in history has gone unmentioned in classrooms across the state for decades.
State Senator Kevin Matthews described the 99-year-old killings of Black people as “Tulsa’s dirty secret.”
“What we want to ensure is that … we are teaching in a grade-appropriate level those facts that have not been taught in a way they should have been taught in Oklahoma,” said state superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
“This is … our history and we should know it.”
What happened in Tusla is more widely known today than ever before owing to a fictional depiction of the massacre in the HBO series Watchmen.
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Archaeologists also plan to excavate part of a cemetery in Tulsa to see if it holds the remains of the Black residents slaughtered by white mobs during the massacre. They found evidence last year of a possible mass gravesite.
“We owe it to the community to determine if there are mass graves in our city,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, according to the Washington Post. “We owe it to the victims and their family members.”
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