A major event to mark the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre was canceled amid a stalemate over payments to three survivors, organizers said.
Remember & Rise event was scheduled for Tulsa Monday, a holiday observed throughout the United States as Memorial Day. Musician John Legend was scheduled to perform and politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams would deliver a keynote speech. But negotiations over survivors’ assistance failed.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, an attorney representing survivors and their descendants in civil litigation against the city of Tulsa, said he provided a list of applications to the 1921 Tulsa Massacre of the Race Centennial Commission.
“After months of no communication and under immense pressure that John Legend and Stacey Abrams no longer participate if the survivors were not centered, a meeting was scheduled to [last] Saturday, ”Solomon-Simmons told the Associated Press.
“Immediately after that call, our legal team submitted a list of seven requests to ensure survivors’ participation in scheduled commission events. The agreement was to have a response to each of the requests from [last Tuesday]. That didn’t happen. “
The lawsuit involving Solomon-Simmons seeks redress for the destruction of Greenwood, a neighborhood that once flourished and was known as “Black Wall Street” because of its prosperity.
On May 31, 1921, Greenwood was attacked by a white mob. Up to 300 people died. “Black Wall Street” was burned and destroyed.
The horrific events in Tulsa attracted attention last year, amid nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism following the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Oklahoma State Senator Kevin Matthews, who chairs the 1921 Tulsa Massacre of the Race Centennial Commission, said that after meeting with Solomon-Simmons and representatives of other survivors, the commission agreed to distribute $ 100,000 to each survivor and provide $ 2 million for a reparations fund.
“We raised the money and we were excited that the survivors accepted these gifts,” Matthews told the AP. “Unfortunately, [last] On Sunday they reached out and increased the amount of donations from $ 100,000 per survivor to $ 1 million, and instead of $ 2 million. [for the fund], they asked for $ 50 million – $ 50 million – in seed money.
“We were unable to respond to those demands. To be clear, I absolutely want survivors, descendants and others who were affected to receive financial and emotional support. However, this is not the way. “
Solomon-Simmons told the AP that the $ 50 million request was not intended to be negotiable.
Matthews said the commission had raised more than $ 30 million, including $ 20 million to build the Greenwood Rising Museum, in the last five years. Other funds would help Greenwood Cultural Center renovations, commemoration activities and art projects, he said.
Some black Tulsa residents have questioned whether the money for the museum, which is in an increasingly gentrified part of the city, should have gone to descendants of those killed in the massacre, or to African Americans now living nearby. of Greenwood.
Two groups have scheduled separate events to mark the centenary of the massacre. In addition to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival has planned a series of events that will run as scheduled.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism