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Her ancestors survived the Tulsa Race Massacre. Now she's telling their stories

By Steve Goldstein
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 12:14pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 12:23pm

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Tulsa Race Massacre refugee camp
American Red Cross/Library of Congress
Entrance to a refugee camp after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The history of the U.S. is riddled with incidents of racial injustice — which continue today, perhaps most starkly with the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.

One of the worst events, and one that was widely unknown beyond its region until recently, is known as the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. A group of white people attacked the predominantly Black area of Greenwood, burning more than 1,200 homes and blunting the progress that had been made in the part known as Black Wall Street.

Alicia Odewale is an archaeologist and assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Tulsa. She has done extensive research on what happened in Tulsa a century ago and will be talking about it Jan. 19 at the Mesa Arts Center as part of the National Geographic Live speakers series.

The Show spoke with her and began the conversation by asking why so little was known about the Tulsa Race Massacre, and why it’s important to learn about it now.

Alicia Odewale CNHS excavation
Alicia Odewale
Alicia Odewale working on a dig at Christiansted National Historic Site on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

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