Tulsa 2022

RJ Young on the commemoration—and commercialization—of the massacre’s centenary

Courtesy of Tulsa Historical Society & Museum
Courtesy of Tulsa Historical Society & Museum

In 1921, white citizens of Tulsa burned down the Black neighborhood of Greenwood, killing hundreds of residents, ruining dozens of businesses, and destroying a community of 10,000. For generations, the history was buried, surfacing only through the determined research of a professor here or a novelist there; it wasn’t until 2001 that the state of Oklahoma commissioned a report revealing the extent of the damage. One hundred years on, the Tulsa massacre is the most infamous of a number of 20th-century efforts by white mobs to destroy Black communities. RJ Young, author of the memoir Let It Bang and a Fox Sports analyst, offers his perspective in Requiem for the Massacre, both as a native Tulsan deeply embedded in its present and as a Black writer conflicted by the tone of the centennial events a year ago.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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