The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission (“Centennial Commission”) today announced that it has received a $1 million grant from Bank of America in support of its planned state-of-the-art history center “Greenwood Rising,” that tells the story of the original “Black Wall Street” and chronicles the worst domestic terrorist event in our nation’s history. This grant is connected to the bank’s $1 billion, four-year initiative to advance racial equality, health care and economic opportunity in minority communities.
A critical part of the Centennial Commission’s efforts, “Greenwood Rising” is being built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the race massacre. Local Projects, a New York City firm that helped create the 9/11 Memorial Museum, serves as principal designer and curator for the project, working in conjunction with local author/historian Hannibal B. Johnson, who serves as lead local curator. Under construction in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District, the museum-grade exhibition facility will be a focal point for embracing the past, sparking meaningful and sustainable economic progress, and facilitating racial reconciliation in Tulsa and beyond.
“This incredible gift from Bank of America, the largest investment to date from a national corporate donor headquartered outside Oklahoma, will support the Centennial Commission’s mission-critical efforts in education, economic empowerment, and community engagement,” said Oklahoma State Senator Kevin Matthews, founder and chairman of the Centennial Commission. “We are grateful for the role Bank of America is playing to help tackle these challenging issues and their generosity.”
In addition to Greenwood Rising, the Centennial Commission is committed to inspiring and instilling hope for the future; sharing the truths of our past; creating an environment that fosters sustainable entrepreneurship and heritage tourism; planning and implementing educational experiences and insight through workshops, conferences, and symposia throughout Oklahoma and the nation; and catalyzing citizens to be the change they want to see in the community.
“This important new center will serve as an economic anchor in Tulsa, and has already begun shining a spotlight on the important, untold history of a thriving Greenwood District and horrific tragedy in a way that will create understanding and offer inspiration and hope for future generations,” said Bill Lissau, Tulsa market president, Bank of America. “Similar to our national investment in the Smithsonian initiative, this partnership demonstrates Bank of America’s ongoing commitment to create dialogue that will bring about healing and unity as we work together to advance racial equality and economic opportunity far beyond our city limits.”
A portion of the Bank of America funding will be applied toward the construction of Greenwood Rising History Center, and the remainder will fund:
The bank also announced $250 million in capital to community development financial institutions and minority depository institutions that have small business designation status — offering financial assistance to low- and moderate-income and minority communities by funding loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. In September, Bank of America announced an industry-first issuance of a $2 billion Equality Progress Sustainability Bond designed to advance racial equality, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability.
“Bank of America has shown itself to be a great corporate citizen throughout the country. Its investment in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District and what this community represents today — part of our nation’s push for racial equity and social justice — could hardly be timelier. Often, moving forward requires taking a long look back,” said Phil Armstrong, project director for the Centennial Commission.
The Centennial Commission, state-created body formed in 2015 by Oklahoma State Senator Kevin Matthews, seeks to educate all United States citizens about Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District, the storied “Black Wall Street,” including the massacre and its impact on Oklahoma and the nation. Utilizing an experiential, sustainable approach, the Commission will build social ties and unite communities.
The Commission’s work falls into five categories which are the basis for its committees: (1) Arts and Culture; (2) Education; (3) Tourism; (4) Economic Development; and (5) Commemoration. These interconnected building blocks undergird its ambitious agenda.
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Phil Armstrong, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission
Britney Sheehan, Bank of America