UU Church Today, Society & Culture, Practice & Voice

Two Decades: The Call for Reparations continues

For two decades, All Souls Senior Minister and our denomination, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) along with the Church of the Restoration (UU) in Tulsa have officially called for and been in support of reparations for the survivors and community of Greenwood, Tulsa for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Our call for reparations continues in the centennial year of the massacre—and the centennial year of our church—we continue to call for and work for reconcilation, reparations, and healing. Join us in February, 2021 on Sundays at 10 & 11:30 a.m. to continue the conversation during Black History Month.

Reparations for the 1921 Tulsa, OK Race Massacre presented by the Unitarian Universalist Association, 2001.

July 1, 2001 Action of Immediate Witness

July 1, 2001

Guided by our commitment to justice and by the findings and recommendations of The Tulsa Race Riot, A Report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921; and

Because our Tulsan Unitarian Universalist forebears witnessed an atrocity of ethnic cleansing for which we are responsible to account, to reconcile and to repair; and

Whereas the Tulsa Race Riot is consistent with a pattern of assaults and riots in many communities across America; and

Whereas, following the Tulsa Tribune’s editorial suggesting the probability of a lynching in Tulsa that night, frenzy spread throughout Tulsa. That evening, in the presence of two thousand white Tulsans, seventy-five African American World War I veterans met the sheriff at the courthouse, offering to protect a young black man jailed for assaulting a white elevator operator based on accusations that were later recanted; and

Whereas, after rioting began, the City of Tulsa Police Department deputized five hundred members of the white mob, and the State of Oklahoma mobilized units of the National Guard armed with the city’s machine gun mounted on a flatbed truck; and

Whereas the District of Greenwood’s citizens defended their community through the nighttime hours and faced at daylight an overwhelming assault by five thousand to ten thousand white Tulsans, whom the Ku Klux Klan probably helped to mobilize; and

Whereas the mob systematically emptied homes, detained residents, murdered those found to be armed, looted homes and businesses, and then burned them down resulting in:

Around three hundred deaths, according to the official report of the Red Cross,

Forty square blocks burned to the ground including 1,265 homes, as well as hospitals, schools, and churches,

One hundred and fifty businesses leveled in the district known as Black Wall Street, and

Six thousand black Tulsans detained; and

Whereas the Commission has now submitted its report to the governor of Oklahoma on February 28, 2001, and the Tulsa Reparations Coalition has just launched a campaign to implement the Commission’s recommendations in the coming year, because the 118 survivors of the 1921 Riot are dying;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the 2001 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association endorses the recommendations of the Commission as stated in its final report:

The direct payment of reparations to survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot;

The direct payment of reparations to descendants of the victims and of the survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot;

The establishment of a scholarship fund available to students affected by the Tulsa Race Riot;

The establishment of an economic development enterprise zone in the historic area of the Greenwood District; and

The creation of a memorial for the reburial of any human remains found in the search for unmarked graves of riot victims.

For more information contact socialjustice@uua.org.

With the above resolution of our General Assembly, the UUA gave $25,000 in 2001 to initiate a fund created by Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries that raised donations from religious organizations in Tulsa for survivors to make a moral statement to the city that reparations were due. Many religious bodies participated and three small, but meaningful, disbursements were made to the remaining survivors. TMM was clear to say that these checks were “not reparations, but were an offering of faith communities to acknowledge that reparations are due.”

Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar is the Senior Minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He celebrates 20 years at All Souls during the church’s Centennial through March 2021. Follow Marlin on Instagram, @mlavanhar.

You can read more of his blogs on beyondbelief.online; All Souls exclusive blog sharing stories of our free faith, curated from the heartland.

Read more about the history of Greenwood from Carlos Moreno, author of The Victory of Greenwood, including Where do we go from here” Chaos or Community.
Cover Photo: Taken the morning of the 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade

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