BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Sunday, October 24, 2010
10/24/10 at 5:09 AM
View videos, archival stories and photos about
the Tulsa Race Riot.
Related Story: Park challenges Tulsans to heal wounds that remain
Tulsa's most acclaimed scholar and the city's darkest moment share a common history – and now, a common ground.
John Hope Franklin was 6 years old, getting ready to board a train in Rentiesville, when he learned of the calamity in Tulsa. His father, B.C. Franklin, had gone to Tulsa a few months earlier to establish a law practice. The rest of the family was to follow at the end of May.
The riot of May 31 and June 1, 1921, delayed the move 4 1/2 years. Even then, Tulsa bore the physical and emotional scars of the rampage that destroyed most of the city's segregated black neighborhood.
On Wednesday, Tulsa will formally recognize both the riot and John Hope Franklin, a Booker T. Washington High School alumnus who went on to become one of America's pre-eminent historians.
John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, between North Elgin and Detroit avenues across from ONEOK Field, will formally open at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The park's opening brings to fruition nearly a decade of discussion, planning and development. Officials say it is intended to foster Franklin's approach to history: acknowledge the past, learn from it and look to the future. Long-term plans include a research library and conference center organizers say will host national and local events focused on community understanding.
The park features two large sculptures by artist Ed Dwight and a series of story boards describing Tulsa's historic Greenwood District and the 1921 riot. More than three-dozen people lost their lives in the riot. Hundreds were injured and thousands lost their homes.
John Hope Franklin
Born: Jan. 2, 1916, Rentiesville, Okla.
Died: March 25, 2009, Durham, N.C.
Famous for: Pioneering work in African-American history and understanding the role of race in America. His book "From Slavery to Freedom," first published in 1947, remains a seminal work on black history. An eighth edition was issued in 2000.
Tulsa connection: Moved to Tulsa at the age of 10 and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School at the top of his class in 1931. His father, B.C. Franklin, was a well-known Tulsa attorney.
Academic career: Fisk University, B.A., 1935; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1941; St. Augustine's College, faculty, 1941-1943; North Carolina College, faculty, 1943-1947; Howard University, faculty, 1947-1956; Brooklyn College, department head, 1956-1964; University of Chicago, faculty, 1964-1982 (department head 1967-1970); Duke University, faculty, 1983-1992.
Publications include: "From Slavery to Freedom," "The Emancipation Proclamation," "The Militant South," "The Free Negro in North Carolina," "Reconstruction After the Civil War," and "A Southern Odyssey: Travelers in the Ante-bellum North."
Honors: Presidential Medal of Freedom, National Council on the Humanities, Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, UNESCO delegate, Fulbright professor, Who's Who in America, the Organization of American Historians' Award for Outstanding Achievement, the Alpha Phi Alpha Award of Merit and the NAACP's Spingarn Medal.
Also of note: Adviser to Thurgood Marshall's legal team in Brown v. Board of Education.
In 1962, Franklin became the first black person named department head at a predominantly white institution, Brooklyn College.
Published his last book,"John Hope Franklin: Mirror to America," at the age of 91 in 2006.
World website continues discussion of race relations
One of the worst race riots in the nation's history occurred in Tulsa over a 14-hour period on May 31 and June 1, 1921. Dozens of people were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands were left homeless. Most of the segregated black district, known as Greenwood, was destroyed.
Although the riot itself lasted only 14 hours, its repercussions are still felt today. The Tulsa World has created a website - tulsaworld.com/raceriot - containing a wealth of information for students, historians and others who wish to learn more about the Tulsa Race Riot.
The website contains archived stories, photographs and pages from that time. In addition, there is a timeline, an interactive map and slide shows of John Hope Franklin and riot survivors. Additional stories related to the riot are also on the site.
The Questions That Remain
Join our panel in answering some important questions on race relations in Tulsa today. Each day for seven days, a diverse panel of area residents will answer a different question about race in Tulsa. Go to tulsaworld.com/raceriot and add your thoughts.
Is racism still a problem in Tulsa today?
How do you react when you witness racism?
What role has race played in your life?
Do you think the public is oversensitive to minorities and people from other countries?
Have you ever been discriminated against because of your race?
Does race matter in love?
What can individuals do to improve race relations in our community?
John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park timeline
April 1997: Gov. Frank Keating signs a bill by state Rep. Don Ross, D-Tulsa, authorizing a new commission to study the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot and make recommendations to the governor and Oklahoma Legislature.
February 2000 : Tulsa Race Riot Commission recommends the establishment of a memorial to commemorate the race riot.
June 2001 : Keating signs two bills concerning the Tulsa Race Riot. One bill contains $750,000 for the race riot memorial. The other bill, by Ross and state Sen. Maxine Horner, contains no state money but sets up a Greenwood redevelopment authority.
August 2001 : Keating says he supports appropriating up to $5 million for a riot memorial and development incentives.
May 2002 : The state Legislature authorizes spending up to $5 million for a race riot memorial in Tulsa.
February 2003 : The memorial committee purchases a three-acre property on North Elgin Avenue near Interstate 244 from the Tulsa Development Authority as the site of the park. The city later reimburses the committee for the $405,000 purchase price, using grant money.
May 2003 : The memorial committee proposes naming the facility after Rentiesville native and famed historian John Hope Franklin. He is the son of B.C. Franklin, an attorney who represented many of those who suffered losses in the 1921 riot.
June 2003 : Sculptor Ed Dwight unveils models of two sculptures he proposes for the park.
February 2004 : The state nears completion of a contract to pay Dwight $1.2 million for two bronzes, one of which is a 27-foot-tall "Tower of Reconciliation."
April 2004 : Julius Pegues, chairman of the memorial committee, reports that the state has appropriated about $2.3 million for the project.
December 2004 : The memorial is officially named the John Hope Franklin Greenwood Reconciliation Memorial and Museum.
February 2006 : A National Park Service report says the Tulsa Race Riot was an event of "supreme national significance" that makes the planned park and memorial a candidate for Park Service affiliation.
February 2007 : U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, introduces a bill to make the Tulsa Race Riot memorial part of the National Park Service.
October 2008 : Tulsa City Council approves spending $500,000 in economic development funds for the park. The funding is combined with $400,000 in private donations to complete the project, after the state appropriates only $3.7 million.
November 2008 : Along with Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor and other dignitaries, historian John Hope Franklin breaks ground on the park that bears his name.
March 2009 : Scholar, author and historian John Hope Franklin dies at age 94 in Durham, N.C.
May 2009 : A contract is awarded to Keith Construction for the first phase of park construction. Work begins a month later.
October 2009 : Some 600 people gather at the Greenwood Cultural Center to inaugurate the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation.
May 2010: The Tower of Reconciliation sculpture is installed at the park.
Oct. 27, 2010 : Dedication of the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.
- Compiled by DEBBIE JACKSON World Sunday Editor
Randy Krehbiel 581-8365
Workers clean up in preparation for the opening of John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park on Wednesday. The centerpiece, created by Ed Dwight, stands amid landscaping, walkways and informational plaques about the Tulsa Race Riot. ADAM WISNESKI / Tulsa World
Julius Pegues: He headed the commission that created the memorial to the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.
John Hope Franklin
Family members search for belongings in the ashes of their home. OKLAHOMA HISTORICAL SOCIETY / Courtesy