A little over a year ago, I received an invitation from the Mayor’s office to participate in the 1921/2021 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. I remember thinking at the time how much of an honor it was for a church from our side of the city to be included. Our church is just about as far south as you can go and still be in Tulsa’s city limits. Anyone who knows Tulsa knows that areas of South Tulsa and North Tulsa have little to do with each other, even after all these decades have passed.
What’s amazing about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which one hundred years later remains the worst incident of racial violence in U.S. history, is that most Tulsans had never heard much if anything about it until the last few years. I am one of those Tulsans, born and raised here, who never learned about the event(s) until I was an adult. I was actually in seminary in Texas, in a class on cross-cultural ministry, and read about it in a textbook chapter on racial issues. Since joining the commission, however, I have learned a lot. A lot, a lot. And I have continually been blown away by the gracious spirit of my African American brothers and sisters who welcome us into the conversation with open arms and charitable hearts.
From the very first meeting I attended, I’ve had the distinct impression that the commission wants to create a bridge from every part of Tulsa to the Greenwood district, a historically African American area where most white Tulsans probably never go unless they’re going to a minor league baseball game or eating in a restaurant nearby. And I noted…the commission created this bridge for us here in South Tulsa to be welcomed into their neighborhood…they opened the door before we did, and it will be a disgrace if that bridge only goes in one direction.
I invited others from our church to join the commission meetings, and we all agreed that one of our main goals was to bring the commission to South Tulsa as well, to welcome their leaders and their message into our neighborhood and to invite our community to come and listen. This Sunday, November 1st, is the first of what we hope will be multiple opportunities for our South Tulsa community to participate in the work the commission is doing to bring healing to our city. “Coming Together” is a one-day, two-church event with our friends from First Baptist Church downtown. The same event will be happening at both locations, with discussion led by Phil Armstrong, who answers lots of important questions about the event in the video below.
CONSIDER THIS: in May of 2021, the national spotlight will be on Tulsa and millions of eyes will be watching our city. My prayer is that our churches, working with the commission and other organizations, will help make our city a model for the entire nation of how this can be done right.
Watch this video below and join us Sunday evening 11/1/2020 either in person at South Tulsa Baptist Church or online at http://southtulsa.live. The event will be also recorded and available to watch later.