Featured image: Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks in support of a resolution by the Tulsa City Council to apologize for the Tulsa Race Massacre on June 2, 2021. (Christopher Creesem The Black Wall Street Times)
On Jan. 15, 2024, the Beyond Apology Report was published. It calls for the city of Tulsa to establish a reparations commission. “We recommend that the City of Tulsa establish a government sanctioned task-force or commission to establish and implement the terms of a reparations program,” the report concluded.
By Deon Osborne, The Black Wall Street Times —
Released on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the “Beyond Apology” report recommends the City of Tulsa establish a reparations commission.
The scope of the commission should “at the very least include survivors and descendants of the Tulsa race massacre and Black Tulsans who have been impacted by discriminatory policies and practices,” the report states on its website, beyondapology.org.
Drawing data from a series of community listening sessions between April and July 2023, the Beyond Apology report’s researchers compiled a list of priorities on which residents want the city to take action.
Education, direct financial compensation, and economic development topped the list of priorities, followed by home ownership, land, health and wellness, policy change and cultural identity.
The report follows a resolution from Tulsa City Council in June 2021, during the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, when a city-sanctioned white mob destroyed the community of Greenwood and killed upwards of 300 Black men, women and children.
Black residents filed over $4 million in claims, but many believe the true damage from the Massacre is much higher.
Referring to the Massacre as a riot allowed insurance companies to refuse to pay out claims, and city officials tried–unsuccessfully– to confiscate the land rather than help residents rebuild, according to the Tulsa Historical Society.
Greenwood community wants city to move forward on reparations
On June 1, 2021, President Biden became the first sitting president to visit Historic Greenwood District, home to the original Black Wall Street.
“It wasn’t a riot. It was a massacre,” Biden said. “Only with truth can come healing and justice and repair…but that isn’t enough.”
A day later, Tulsa City Council passed a resolution to “acknowledge, apologize, and commit to making tangible amends for the racially motivated acts of violence perpetrated against Black Tulsans in Greenwood in 1921.”
Neither Biden nor Tulsa City Council explicitly called for reparations. However, the resolution did call for the establishment of a community-led process to evaluate recommendations for reconciliation that draw from the 2001 Oklahoma Race Riot Commission report.
The decades-old report, which has been collecting dust, explicitly called for five forms of reparations:
- Direct payments to survivors.
- Direct payments to descendants.
- A scholarship fund for children impacted by the Massacre.
- An economic development enterprise zone for Greenwood.
- A memorial for victims found in mass graves and proper reburial.
Study gathered responses from community
Following the city’s 2021 resolution, The Beyond Apology Team formed.
Led by Standpipe Hill Strategies, a company owned by community organizer and former Tulsa mayoral candidate Greg Robinson, researchers with The Public Work Project at OSU-Tulsa collaborated alongside World WonDevelopment to publish a summary of perspectives on what repair and reparation should look like in Tulsa.
According to the 54-page Beyond Apology report, 21 percent of participants in the community listening sessions were descendants of survivors, and 70 percent of Tulsa zip codes were represented.
The sessions, which took place at locations across the city, walked participants through data from the city’s Equality Indicators, the recommendations from the 2001 state report, and other data on childhood equity.
They also looked at the ongoing legal battle for survivors “mother” Viola Ford Fletcher and “mother” Lessie Benningfield Randle, both 109 years old, along with case studies, such as the ongoing program in Evanston, Illinois. It became the first city to establish reparations on the local level in 2021.
Since then, other cities and the state of California have begun proposing or implementing their own versions of local reparations.
Beyond Apology Report findings
Roughly 85 percent of participants cited education as the most important component of a reparations strategy.
While the Oklahoma Legislature has approved of a limited scholarship fund for descendants for several years, an interim study conducted by Rep. Regina Goodwin at the Capitol in October revealed few students were benefitting from the program.
Direct financial compensation came in as the second-highest priority, although the report says participants didn’t fully agree on who would be eligible or how the funds would be transferred.
“We recommend that the City of Tulsa establish a government sanctioned
task-force or commission to establish and implement the terms of a reparations program,” the report concluded.
The Beyond Apology report proposes a task-force made up of community members most impacted by the harm of the city-sanctioned Massacre and the destructive government policies that followed, such as urban renewal.
It also calls on the city to address the issue separate from other equity initiatives.
“The ‘reparations program’ must be differentiated from ‘equitable policy’. While the City of Tulsa should strive to enact ‘equitable policy’, the matter of reparations and any ensuing program exists to remedy past harms done to a specific group of people. In this case that is the over 100 years of harm done to Black Tulsans in the wake of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.”
To read the full Beyond Apology report, click here.
Source: The Black Wall Street Times
Featured image: Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks in support of a resolution by the Tulsa City Council to apologize for the Tulsa Race Massacre on June 2, 2021. On Jan. 15, 2024, the Beyond Apology Report was published. It calls for the city of Tulsa to establish a reparations commission. (Christopher Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)