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Mayor apologizes on behalf of Tulsa on 100th anniversary of Race Massacre

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FILE - Mayor G.T. Bynum in Tulsa, Okla., Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) – Mayor G.T. Bynum on Monday – the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre – issued an apology on behalf of the city of Tulsa.

"While no municipal elected official in Tulsa today was alive in 1921, we are the stewards of the same government and an apology for those failures is ours to deliver. As the Mayor of Tulsa, I apologize for the city government's failure to protect our community in 1921 and to do right by the victims of the Race Massacre in its aftermath. The victims - men, women, young children - deserved better from their city, and I am so sorry they didn’t receive it," reads a statement from the mayor.

Bynum called the Race Massacre the “worst moment in our city’s history” and vowed to be transparent while engaging in a “sustained effort to correct inequalities that grew over more than a century in Tulsa.”

Below is the mayor's full statement & more from the city of Tulsa:

“Today marks 100 years since the worst moment in our city’s history. For those of us who love Tulsa, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre represents the opposite of everything we want our city to be: hate rather than love; division rather than unity; destruction rather than creation; wickedness rather than faith.

“As mayor, I hold our local government to the highest standard. Tulsa’s city government failed to protect Black Tulsans from murder and arson on the night of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and from discrimination in subsequent decades.

“While no municipal elected official in Tulsa today was alive in 1921, we are the stewards of the same government and an apology for those failures is ours to deliver. As the Mayor of Tulsa, I apologize for the city government’s failure to protect our community in 1921 and to do right by the victims of the Race Massacre in its aftermath. The victims - men, women, young children - deserved better from their city, and I am so sorry they didn’t receive it.

“In the last five years, we’ve seen Tulsa’s city government place the fight against racial disparities at the forefront of the City’s work. And it is important for Tulsans to recognize the disparities that exist in Tulsa today are not unique to Tulsa. The same disparities unfortunately exist in many cities around the United States. What is unique to Tulsa is that we are being completely transparent about the existence of those disparities in our city and are uniting our community behind eliminating them.

“Tulsans are united in wanting to end racial disparity. People in all parts of our city - people of different backgrounds, races, religions, political parties - want Tulsa to be a place where every kid has an equal opportunity for a long, successful life. And they want to play a part in making that happen.

“There is a lot of debate in Tulsa right now about the best ways to make that happen. When you have people with such a diverse range of life experiences and passion striving to address an issue they care about deeply, it can sometimes get heated and personal. But at its best, Tulsa is a community of neighbors who love one another - so we should expect this to be personal. And all of the most powerful improvements in American history were forged through a vigorous exchange of ideas.

“All of us engaged in this work know that it will take years of sustained effort to correct inequalities that grew over more than a century in Tulsa. I am thankful for everyone in our community who is committed to this work for the long term.

“Each of the initiatives below include many strategies being deployed to close gaps and make Tulsa a better city. Each of those strategies provides an opportunity for engagement, based on your level of expertise or interest. I hope all of my fellow Tulsans will find a way to join in these or other efforts. If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that Tulsans can overcome every great challenge when we work together.”

For those who want to engage particular aspects of the City of Tulsa’s work to make ours a better city, there are a number of options:

To read our annual report that statistically measures inequality in Tulsa (the Tulsa Equality Indicators report): https://csctulsa.org/tulsaei/

To read our 6-year plan for addressing racial disparities in Tulsa (the Resilient Tulsa Strategy): https://www.cityoftulsa.org/media/7673/reslient-tulsa-digital-web.pdf

To learn more about the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity, the team we established to follow through on the Resilient Tulsa Strategy: https://www.cityoftulsa.org/government/resilient-tulsa/

To follow our search for the graves of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims: http://www.cityoftulsa.org/1921graves

To learn more about the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity, our new authority established to use economic development as a driver of equality of opportunity in Tulsa while streamlining development processes and consolidating several old authorities: https://www.thenewlocalism.com/newsletter/tulsa-and-the-remaking-of-urban-governance/

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