The coalition seeks reparations for survivors of the 1921 Race Riot.

Gaining reparations for survivors of Tulsa's 1921 Race Riot is on the to-do list for a Tulsa initiative to fight racism, but it will take an act of Congress — literally — to get it done.

Several groups have come together, including the city of Tulsa, to form the Journey of Healing initiative, which will work to take people in the Tulsa community through a process to identify and address the issue of racism, said Mana Tahaie, the YWCA's director of racial justice.

Along with the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice and the Tulsa Urban League, the YWCA is kicking off the first step Sunday with the premiere of "Before They Die," a documentary made by Mportant Films about the survivors of the race riot and their court struggle for reparations.

Several funds have been started to give the survivors reparations. But in most cases, money could not be given directly to the survivors because Congress has never designated them as a "charitable class," which is needed for the groups administering the funds to be in line with the rules of the Internal Revenue Service, Tahaie said.

About $83,000 was raised through the YWCA and other sponsorships for the survivors. Through the Journey of Healing initiative planning, officials found a fund of about $500,000 at the Tulsa Community Foundation that had been mostly untouched since it was raised in the wake of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission's 2001 final report, Tahaie said.

Now, the Journey of Healing participants are seeking legislation to allow nonprofit groups and foundations to disburse those funds in cash.

The money now can be used only for indirect support, such as airfare and accommodations for Sunday's movie, Tahaie said.

For survivors, any kind of effort means a lot, she said.

"I just get the sense that this is a huge, huge deal for them," Tahaie said.

The film also will be a source of pride for people who might not know about the Greenwood neighborhood's rich history and cultural significance to black Americans, said Felicia Collins Correia, CEO of the YWCA.

"This is so much closer to home for children in north Tulsa to take pride in," she said.

In addition to hosting the film's showing, Journey of Healing will support efforts to address racism, including training groups to reach an understanding of the problem and a "Race against Racism" run in the Greenwood neighborhood.

"We want to be able to talk about race in Tulsa without guilt and placing blame," Tahaie said, adding that Journey of Healing "is the difference between providing social services and affecting social change."

Jarrel Wade 581-8310

Five steps on the Journey of Healing


The fate of our future is bound up inextricably with our past.


Collectively and individually looking inward brings understanding of our part in shaping the whole.


When difficult truths are admitted and mourned publicly, change transcends the individual.


Only when we understand each other’s truths can we begin working in tandem.


As a community, all our challenges are mutual challenges.

Source: YWCA