Photo by Svineyard via Shutterstock

May 31, 2021–June 1, 1921 will be the 100 year anniversary of the destruction that took place in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the span of 48 hours what was once a prominent, self-sufficient African American business district–often referred to as Black Wall Street–was reduced to burned rubble. It left hundreds of African Americans killed and thousands homeless

However, the event that took place was actively denied and many officials, including the police at the time, erased records of the arrests and reports that were made in an attempt to erase those days from the state’s history. 

The history stayed undocumented until 1997 when the Tulsa Race Riot Commission was formed where Eddie Faye Gates was appointed to investigate and record the history of what would eventually be called The Tulsa Race Massacre. Since then, Gates has dedicated a large portion of her life collecting, researching, and interviewing survivors of the riot in an effort to preserve its history. 

Gates’ collection will soon be accessible to the public as The Gilcrease Museum announced on Oct.12 that it will be receiving the Eddie Faye Gates Tulsa Race Massacre Collection. 

The collection includes handwritten notes, newspaper clippings, video recordings and over 600 photographs that will be preserved and made available for research by the museum. 

When asked about the collection, Gates’ daughter, Dianne Gates-Anderson said of her mother, “It became her mission to ensure the atrocities that occurred during the 1921 Race Massacre are not forgotten, and that the survivors’ stories serve to make needed change.”
In addition to the collection, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has donated $299,710 to the museum that is to be used to digitize and study the oral histories and photographs so they may be accessed by educators to assist in the teaching of The Tulsa Race Massacre so that its not forgotten.  

Written ByKarissa Leuschen

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