Backers of a project to renovate the Greenwood Cultural Center and build an adjacent museum are hoping interest in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre sparked by the HBO series “Watchmen” will boost fundraising.
Last week the Tulsa Community Foundation launched a GoFundMe account called ”Greenwood Rising: Rebuild THE Black Wall Street” in an effort to reach small donors. The account has a modest $50,000 goal, although project manager Phil Armstrong said he really doesn’t know what to expect.
“We talked about where to set the goal,” Armstrong said. “Should it be a $1 million? $2 million? We thought that might cause people to think it was only for big donors. So we decided to try $50,000 and see what happens.”
So far there hasn’t been much activity on the account. Just over $1,000 has been donated to the account since the campaign launched Tuesday. Armstrong said the idea is to reach people who can give only a few dollars or a few hundred dollars.
“That way they can say they participated,” he said.
Armstrong said the GoFundMe initiative was sparked by the “Watchmen” series, which is set in an “alternate reality” Tulsa and opens with the race massacre. That ignited international interest in the event.
“Social media lit up,” Armstrong said. “We’ve been getting requests from all over the country.”
Plans call for renovation of the Greenwood Cultural Center and construction of a museum to be called Greenwood Rising, plus a trail from Vernon AME Church, across Greenwood Avenue from the cultural center, to John Hope Franklin Park about three blocks away.
Armstrong said the project has financial commitments totaling $18 million, including $5.3 million from the city, but the cost is now estimated at $30 million. That’s up from $24 million a few months ago.
The cost has gone up, Armstrong said, because of public input about what the project should include.
The Greenwood Cultural Center renovations include moving the main entrance from the south to the north side and opening a driveway for access. It also involves upgrades to the interior to make it more versatile, Armstrong said.
The adjoining museum would feature exhibits on the history of Greenwood, including the massacre.
“We have what we need to get started,” said Armstrong. “The goal is to have the facility ready for the public on the (100th) anniversary in 2021.”