Dispute over Tulsa race massacre survivors canceled event –

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Dispute over Tulsa race massacre survivors canceled event – fr


Organizers who canceled a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre said on Friday the event was canceled after an agreement could not be reached on monetary payments to three survivors of the deadly attack from a white crowd, highlighting broader debates on reparations. for racial injustice.

Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons told The Associated Press he submitted a list of demands to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission for survivors to attend the “Remember & Rise” event. Monday at ONEOK Field in Tulsa. The commission had hired Grammy-winning singer and songwriter John Legend to headline the event, and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams was scheduled to deliver the keynote address.

“After months without any communication and under immense pressure to have John Legend and Stacey Abrams no longer participate if the survivors were not centered, a meeting was scheduled for Saturday,” Solomon-Simmons said in a text message to the AP. “Immediately after this call, our legal team submitted a list of seven requests to ensure the participation of survivors in events scheduled by the commission. “

“The agreement was to have answers to each of the requests by (Tuesday). This does not happen. “

Solomon-Simmons represents the survivors and their descendants in a lawsuit against the city of Tulsa and other defendants seeking reparations for the destruction of the city’s once thriving black quarter.

State Senator Kevin Matthews, chairman of the commission, said that after meeting with Solomon-Simmons and other representatives of the survivors, the commission agreed to provide US $ 100,000 to each of the three survivors, as well as US $ 2 million in seed capital for a repair fund.

“We raised the money and were delighted that the survivors accepted these gifts,” Matthews said on Friday. “Unfortunately, on Sunday they reached out and increased the gift amount from US $ 100,000 per survivor to US $ 1 million, and instead of US $ 2 million they asked for US $ 50 million – US $ 50 million – in seed capital. We were unable to respond to these requests. “

“To be clear, I absolutely want survivors, descendants and others affected to be supported financially and emotionally. However, this is not so. “

Solomon said the $ 50 million figure had never been a non-negotiable request.

Messages left with Legend and Abrams reps seeking comment were not returned.

Reparations for black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved and for other racial discrimination have been debated in the United States since slavery ended in 1865. Now they are being discussed by related colleges and universities. to slavery and by local governments seeking to make cash payments to black residents amid the ongoing national toll on the murder of George Floyd.

The massacre of the Tulsa race – which left as many as 300 dead and burned down the prosperous black quarter of the city known as Greenwood – is one of the most striking examples of the decimation of black wealth, leaving nothing to parents to pass on and forcing generations to start from scratch.

Over the past five years, Matthews says the Centennial Commission has raised more than US $ 30 million, including US $ 20 million for the construction of the Greenwood Rising Museum. Other funds were raised for art projects, commemoration activities and renovations at the Greenwood Cultural Center.

But some black residents of Tulsa wonder if the money for the construction of the Greenwood Rising Museum in an increasingly gentrified part of the city could have been better spent helping black descendants of the massacre or residents of the predominantly North Side. black town several kilometers from Bois vert.

Disagreements between black leaders in Tulsa over the handling of commemoration events and millions of dollars in donations led two disparate groups to plan separate lists of events marking the 100th anniversary of the massacre. In addition to the Centennial Commission, the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival has scheduled a series of events over the next few days, and they will continue as planned. Solomon-Simmons is associated with the Legacy Festival, along with City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper and Tiffany Crutcher, twin sister of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by a Tulsa police officer in 2016.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to be in Tulsa on Tuesday to commemorate the anniversary.

But the disagreement between the two groups of Tulsa has particularly developed in recent months. In April, Solomon-Simmons sent a cease and desist letter to Armstrong, the commission’s project director, regarding the use of the name and image of one of the survivors in promoting Project Greenwood. Rising, a 7,000 square foot museum being built in Greenwood to tell the story of the massacre.

The commission also excluded Republican Governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, from the panel after signing a bill banning the teaching of certain racial concepts in public schools, and U.S. Senator James Lankford also resigned from the commission. these last weeks. Lankford’s office cited “a shift from the commission’s original goals to a more partisan political agenda” as the reason for its decision.

“It’s just a mess,” said former state senator Judy Eason-McIntyre, a commissioner who says she thinks the global conflict is about both a struggle for power and control. of some of the millions of dollars that have poured into the private foundation community. “I’ve seen stink before… and it’s all about the money. “

Many black Tulsans say they are upset that the two separate factions have not been able to settle their differences and come to an agreement that benefits the city, especially its black residents.

“I’m just disappointed,” said Marq Lewis, a black activist from Tulsa who said he was not associated with either of the two groups. “I’m disappointed the adults couldn’t come to the table and air our dirty laundry nationwide. “

“We all have disagreements… but somehow we have to look at the big picture. ”

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