Bench Dedication Ceremony Commemorate Centennial Of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre


Saturday, April 17th 2021, 10:41 pm
By: Ashlyn Brothers


TULSA, Okla. -

Two benches are honoring those impacted by a dark part of our history. 

The Tulsa Rotary Club Foundation is helping to commemorate the 1921 Race Massacre. Tulsans gathered Saturday in Greenwood to unveil a $12,000 project.

McKenzie Barr, 10, won't wonder about her roots or look through history books that mask the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Today, she's taking part in a history lesson.

She read Useni Eugene Perkins' poem "Hey Black Child", a piece performed by several historic figures like Maya Angelou, before watching as the Tulsa Rotary Club Foundation unveiled its project.

“‘Hey Black child. Do you know who you are? Who you really are? Do you know you can be who you want to be if you try to be what you can be,’" Barr read.

Organizers envision a place where generations can sit, talk, eat and think.

Look a little closer when you arrive because the plaque will give it all away. You see, this is no ordinary place. History happened here.

It's part of the Toni Morrison Society’s "Bench By The Road Project”, commemorating significant moments, people and locations in Black history.

One bench now sits outside the Mabel B. Little House at the corner of Greenwood and Archer. Another will soon call Tulsa's Greenwood Rising museum home.

Brenda Nails-Alford is a descendant of several Tulsa Race Massacre survivors, including her great-grandmother and grandparents. She said she felt many things today like horror and hurt, but also hope for the future.

"I, myself, did not learn about our family's history,” Nails-Alford said. “About the race massacre aspect of our history, our family history, until later in life. I hope that they sit here and think about who they are and who they want to be in life and to take the history that they will learn, to incorporate that to be the best people and persons that they can be.”