Kolkata (We The World): On the centennial of the first day of one of America’s deadliest racist massacres, hundreds gathered outside the historic Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood for an interfaith service dedicating a prayer wall outside the historic Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Associated Press reported.
Multiple local faith leaders joined national civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and William Barber, in offering prayers and remarks outside the church, which was under construction and largely destroyed when a white mob descended on the prosperous Black neighborhood in 1921, burning, killing, looting, and leveling a 35-square-block area.
Participants placed their hands on the prayer wall along the side of the sanctuary as the service came to a close, as singer Santita Jackson performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
The Greenwood District, which was rebuilt after the massacre but slowly degraded 50 years later after homes were taken by eminent domain as part of urban renewal in the 1970s, hummed with traffic.
In 2018, the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The death toll has been estimated to be in the hundreds. Barber, an activist for social and economic rights, said he was humbled even to be on this holy land. You can kill individuals, but you can’t kill the blood’s voice, he said.
Despite the fact that the church was practically destroyed in the murder, parishioners met in the basement and the church was restored some years later, becoming a symbol of Tulsa’s Black community’s perseverance.
Visitors dressed in rain gear traveled down Greenwood Avenue on a gloomy afternoon, photographing historic structures and signs, according to the report.
Many people took the time to study signs on the sidewalk that listed a number of Black-owned buildings and businesses that were destroyed in the 1921 massacre, as well as whether or not they had been restored.
In a statement Monday, President Joe Biden said that “the federal government must reckon with and acknowledge the role that it has played in stripping wealth and opportunity from Black communities.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to acknowledging the role federal policy played in Greenwood and other Black communities and addressing longstanding racial inequities through historic investments” and other steps to “advance racial equity.”
The “Remember & Rise” headline event at neighboring ONEOK Field, featuring Grammy-award-winning musician and songwriter John Legend and a keynote talk from voting rights crusader Stacey Abrams, was scheduled to cap off Monday’s lineup of events honoring the tragedy.
However, the event was canceled late last week after a disagreement arose about monetary compensation to three survivors of the horrific attack, highlighting broader debates about racial injustice reparations.
Legend didn’t mention the event’s cancellation in a statement he tweeted on Sunday, but he did say: “The road to restorative justice is crooked and rough — and there is space for reasonable people to disagree about the best way to heal the collective trauma of white supremacy.
“But one thing that is not up for debate — one fact we must hold with conviction — is that the path to reconciliation runs through truth and accountability.”