Tulsa Teacher Gives Students Lesson Over Race Riots
TULSA - A teacher at Tulsa's Thoreau Demonstration Academy is making sure her students know about an important part of Tulsa history.
Students came to John Hope Reconciliation Park as part of a specific curriculum aimed at highlighting the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots.
The sun was shining, and it was a beautiful day for a field trip, but these 7th graders were focusing on a dark chapter of Tulsa's past.
"It feels kind of weird. Historical. Knowing that a lot of stuff has happened just in downtown where we live," said one student.
Thoreau Language Arts and Geography teacher Candice Pierce grew up in Oklahoma and says her students will not go through school without learning about the Tulsa Race Riots.
"I never learned about it in school. I graduated from Oklahoma schools, so I knew this was something we had to put in our curriculum and it wasn't something you could just brush over," Pierce said.
The course covers everything from what Greenwood was before the massacre to the event itself to the history of lynching culture.
"We can take so much in and learn so much and we are now growing up and going to be the new age so it is good to learn about this stuff," said student Frances Armah.
"I never knew about this and I think it is so shocking none of us knew about it," said student Sophie Torres.
The course is titled Riot or Massacre and the students decide.
"Oklahoma tried to cover it up so everyone should know this is not right and they need to stand for it to make sure it gets changed,” said student Serenity Smith.
"The students have been so receptive, and they have learned so much," Pierce said. "You can’t just teach about the riot, you have to teach about why the riot happened and what was going on in 1921"
This course comes at the same time Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum is calling for an investigation into possible mass graves in this area from the race riots.