Hundreds Gather to Commemorate Tulsa Race Massacre

People praying at Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church. Source: Religious News Network

On May 31, one of the exterior walls of Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Tulsa, OK, was dedicated as a sacred place for prayer during an interfaith ceremony in the Greenwood District.

Local, state, and national religious and elected leaders, including civil rights and social justice activists the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Bishop William J. Barber II gathered together, 100 years after the brutal Tulsa Race Massacre, according to the Religion News Service.

The church was mostly destroyed in 1921, when an angry white mob descended upon the prosperous Black neighborhood, killing nearly 300 residents and ransacking everything in its way.

Rev. Barber, a civil and economic rights activist, told the AP he was “humbled even to stand on this holy ground.”

“You can kill the people but you cannot kill the voice of the blood,” said Barber.

Although the church was mostly destroyed, parishioners continued to meet in the basement, and it was rebuilt several years later, becoming a symbol of the resilience of Tulsa’s Black community. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

Many politicians spoke at the ceremony including U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee of California, and Lisa Brunt Rochester and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, both from Delaware. Currently a House committee is discussing a commission to study and propose reparations for Black Americans.

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