Plans for the proposed Greenwood Historic District met vocal opposition during a meeting of state and local officials Tuesday night at the Greenwood Cultural Center.

The principal complaints from the audience of about 50 were that the proposed district should have included more of the historically black neighborhood and less - as in zero - of areas outside the district that were included because of their significance in Tulsa's 1921 race riot.

"There's stuff on that map south of the railroad tracks that has nothing to do with the Greenwood district," Reuben Gant, president of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, told Lynda Schwan Ozan of the Oklahoma Historical Society. "It's not respectful of the history and legacy of African Americans in this city to do that. I don't see how you or anyone else cannot see that."

Julius Pegues, who for many years headed efforts to memorialize the riot in Tulsa, said the Greenwood Historical District should be strictly about Greenwood or renamed.

"What would be better if you were to rename this the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Battlefield," he said.

State and local historic preservation officials, including Ozan, have said that securing National Register of Historic Places designation for the Greenwood area is complicated by the fact that almost all remaining buildings of historic significance were destroyed by urban renewal.

The proposal unveiled Tuesday night includes the one-block business district at Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street, the Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and Langston University-Tulsa campuses and Archer and Brady streets west to the Brady Theater, which at the time of the riot was called Convention Hall. Black residents of the Greenwood district were rounded up and taken there, ostensibly for their safekeeping, during the riot.

The plan also includes the downtown street grid between the present-day Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad tracks and Sixth Street and Cheyenne and Greenwood avenues. It also includes the old National Guard Armory - now a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall - on East Sixth Street, which was the scene of a standoff between white rioters and National Guardsmen and a Tulsa police officer on the night of May 31, 1921, and was later briefly used as a hospital for injured blacks.

Officials told the crowd that the district boundaries were determined in consultation by the National Park Service, and that without the riot-related sites the nomination would likely be rejected.

The matter will come before the city's historic preservation commission at 11 a.m. on Aug. 9.


Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365

randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com SUBHEAD: The proposed historic area is off base, critics say.

Original Print Headline: Officials hear opposition to Greenwood plan

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