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Oklahoma Race Riot Memorial to be Named for John Hope Franklin

Oklahoma Race Riot Memorial to be Named for John Hope Franklin

TULSA, Okla.
A planned memorial to Tulsa’s 1921 race riot will be named in honor of internationally acclaimed historian and author Dr. John Hope Franklin, who is a native of Rentiesville and spent much of his youth in Tulsa.

The committee in charge of designing and building the facility officially named it the John Hope Franklin Greenwood Reconciliation Memorial and Museum.

If that’s too much of a mouthful, the committee will understand it being called simply “the Franklin.”

“Whatever the official name is, it’ll be known as the Franklin museum,” says former state Rep. Don Ross.

Franklin’s father, B.C. Franklin, was a well-known Tulsa attorney who lost his law office and the family home during the rioting.

The fighting broke out May 31, 1921, after Whites and Blacks clashed outside a courthouse where a Black man was being held on allegations of assaulting a White woman. The confirmed death toll was 37 but some estimates range as high as 300.

By naming the facility for Franklin and Greenwood, the main thoroughfare of Tulsa’s old Black district, the committee hopes to broaden its appeal, both to the general public and to potential donors. Only about 10 percent of the $25 million needed to fully fund the project has been raised.

“It’s high time we go beyond Tulsa and Oklahoma to raise money,” says committee member Steve Turnbo.

The committee says a continuing lawsuit seeking damages from the city and state for the riot have hampered local fund-raising, although the city did agree recently to reimburse the committee the $405,000 for the purchase of a site from the Tulsa Development Authority.

“Every time news about the litigation is in the paper, we go two steps backward,” says committee member John Gaberino. “A lot of fair-minded people are not excited about contributing to this memorial.”

Despite the financial handicaps, the committee expects work to begin on the memorial site immediately. Initially, it will be a park featuring two large-scale sculptures, with a museum and library planned when funds are available. The committee hopes for a June 1, 2005, dedication.

Associated Press

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