John Hope Franklin Center again on hold
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Friday, May 02, 2008
1/20/13 at 8:27 AM
Looks like Tulsa's John Hope
Franklin Center will have to wait until next year.
State Rep. Lucky Lamons confirmed Thursday that the center was
zeroed out of the state budget, leaving it in limbo for a third-straight
year. Inclusion in a state bond issue,
which Lamons termed an "uphill bat
tle," can put the project back on
"If there's no bond issue, there's
no chance to receive state funding,"
Julius Pegues, who for eight years
has led the effort to build the center,
said: "We will keep moving forward.
It might take another year, but we
just keep moving forward."
The center has three acres in
which the city of Tulsa has invested
$400,000, almost $1.5 million worth
of art that can't be displayed, and
$1.7 million in hand that can't be
spent because the project needs an
additional $780,000 to complete the
first phase of a planned $20 million
park, museum and research center.
"The question is," Pegues said, "is
the Legislature going to let all this
work go down the drain for the lack
Mayor Kathy Taylor, who had lobbied for the center, expressed her
"We'll continue to fight to have the
John Hope Franklin Center funded,"
Lamons said he thinks a
standstill state budget was
the only reason the center
was not funded this year, but
Pegues believes that its long-standing lack of political support is because of the project's association with the
1921 Tulsa Race Riot, which
is considered among the
worst of its kind in U.S. history.
"Those people are still at
the race riot," he said. "Other people want to focus on
reconciliation, on moving
Pegues and others involved with the center say it
would focus on Franklin,
perhaps the most internationally acclaimed Tulsan ever, and on racial, religious
and ethnic reconciliation.
Lee Johns, a local communications consultant, said:
"There are those who think
we're blaming people in the
present for what happened
in the past. We're not responsible for what happened
in the past, but we are responsible for the present and
for the future."
The center has a long,
twisted history. In 2001, the
Legislature authorized a
committee to plan and design a race riot memorial. It
agreed to appropriate $5 million over five years for the
The committee, led by Pegues, decided early on to
name the facility for Franklin, a distinguished historian
and Booker T. Washington
High School graduate whose
father, B.C. Franklin, was a
well-known Tulsa attorney.
Initially, the committee
proposed a $20 million museum and library. From the
city, it acquired about three
acres just inside the northern side of the Inner Dispersal Loop between Detroit
and Elgin avenues.
The state funding never
materialized as promised,
however. Instead of $1 million a year for five years, the
amounts ranging from
$250,000 to $722,345 and totaling $3.6 million over six
The project received no
state funds the last two
In 2003, during a tight
budget year, the committee
was advised to spend the
$1.5 million then appropriated or risk losing it. The committee decided to build what
amounted to a memorial
park on the 3-acre site, with
the museum and library to
Ed Dwight, a well-known
sculptor, subsequently was
hired to produce two pieces
-- a 30-foot column and
three larger-than-life figures
from the riot representing violence, humility and hope.
Those pieces, completed
at a cost of nearly $1.4 million, have been in storage at
Dwight's Denver studio for
almost two years because
the committee has no place
to put them.
Lamons said there is some
support in the Legislature
for a roads-and-bridges bond
issue but that local projects
such as the Franklin Center
are a dicier proposition.
If $50 million for Oklahoma City's Native American
Center remains on the table,
it could give Tulsa some leverage for the Franklin Center and other capital improvements.
Randy Krehbiel 581-8365
HONOREEJohn HopeFranklin: Thecenter wouldfocus on him,planners say.