In The Know: Nation’s eyes turn to Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial | ‘A conspiracy of silence’ | Generational loss of wealth for Black Tulsans

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Connecting to Health Care: The Ins and Outs of Enrolling for Medicaid Expansion: Nearly 200,000 Oklahomans will be eligible for health care as the state expands Medicaid. This presentation is designed to help answer questions about who may be eligible for Medicaid coverage, how and when Oklahomans can apply, and how organizations can help connect community members to health care. Presented by the Cover OK Coalition and OK Policy. [YouTube]

Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial News

‘A conspiracy of silence’: Tulsa Race Massacre was absent from schools for generations: The story on the tape couldn’t be real. That’s what state Sen. Kevin Matthews thought as he watched a VHS film, given to him by his great-uncle, depicting a white mob destroying Tulsa’s Greenwood District. Matthews, 61, was in his 30s at the time. He had grown up in Tulsa and graduated from Tulsa Public Schools. But, he had never heard this story before. [The Oklahoman]

  • Tulsa Race Massacre seen through segregated media [The Oklahoman]
  • Skewed view of Tulsa Race Massacre started on Day 1 with ‘The Story That Set Tulsa Ablaze’ [The Oklahoman]

Black Wall Street wealth lost in Tulsa massacre spans generations, experts say: Generations lost millions in waves of Black Wall Street destruction — first the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, then through construction and urban renewal. A century after that massacre, the nation’s attention is on Greenwood, and while awareness is heightened, thanks to television shows and documentaries, the story of the community’s rebuilding and repeated loss of generational wealth are often left out of the storytelling. [The Oklahoman]

  • How the Tulsa Race Massacre destroyed Greenwood and impacted generations of Americans [The Oklahoman]

In pursuit of reparations, Tulsa Race Massacre survivors ask city to ‘do the right thing’: Across the United States, renewed calls for reparations to help right decades-old racial injustices have been part of a racial reckoning that seemed to gain momentum in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. As the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is commemorated and survivors of the tragedy are honored, a demand for justice in the form of reparations will continue to be part of the conversation. [The Oklahoman]

‘We survived it, thank God.’ Tulsa Race Massacre survivor discusses tragedy 100 years later: Star Penny Johnson remembers when she learned her grandmother had survived one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history. It was about six or seven years ago when her grandmother, Lessie Benningfield Randle, started talking about the events of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Dodging bullets’ and coming home to ‘nothing left’: An illustrated history of the Tulsa Race Massacre. [The Oklahoman]
  • Black Wall Street then and now: See the difference in 100 years [The Oklahoman]

100 years after Black Wall Street burned, Greenwood continues rebuilding from Tulsa massacre: Greenwood, America’s ‘Black Wall Street,’ was destroyed in the bloody Tulsa Race Massacre. But even after a second destruction, its legacy lives on. [The Oklahoman]

  • For mayor, Tulsa Race Massacre mass graves investigation is 98 years too late but still absolutely necessary [Tulsa World]
  • Led by modern-day ‘Moses,’ Tulsa’s Mount Zion Baptist rose from ashes after race massacre [The Oklahoman]
  • 100 years after Tulsa Race Massacre, the damage remains [AP News]
  • When violence has been the chosen answer: Lessons from the Tulsa Race Massacre [J.D. Baker / NonDoc]
  • From Black Wall Street to George Floyd, the echoes of trauma shape Black Americans’ reality [The Oklahoman]

President Biden to visit Tulsa for Race Massacre events: President Joe Biden plans to appear in Tulsa on Tuesday, the 100th anniversary of the destruction of Tulsa’s all-Black Greenwood neighborhood during the 1921 Race Massacre. No details of Biden’s visit were available, but the White House confirmed he will be coming to the city.  [Tulsa World] | [The Oklahoman] | [Public Radio Tulsa] | [AP News]

  • Following Congressional testimony last week, several Tulsans attended a West Wing meeting to discuss a range of topics including H.R. 40 on reparations, The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and a now-confirmed visit to Tulsa for the Massacre centennial, though the president himself wasn’t there at the time. [The Black Wall Street Times

State & Local Government News

Senate OK’s bill prohibiting schools from requiring vaccinations for attendance: The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday passed a measure that would prohibit schools from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for attendance. Senate Bill 658, by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, heads to the House for consideration. The measure prohibits schools from requiring a vaccine passport as a condition of admittance or attendance. [Tulsa World] The state health department said last month individual governing boards may have authority to issue such requirements, but a statewide one would not happen. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Oklahoma bill focuses on limiting masking and vaccine requirements [KFOR]

Gov. Kevin Stitt says he will sign bill aimed to help charter, public schools with low revenue: Gov. Kevin Stitt said Tuesday that he will sign a bill that will help traditional public and charter schools that have low or no revenue from property taxes. Senate Bill 229 will provide up to $38.5 million in medical marijuana taxes for a building fund to benefit brick-and-mortar charter schools and traditional districts with below-average property taxes. The bulk of the funds would go to public schools. [Tulsa World]

‘A whole new age’: Oklahoma name, image, likeness bill passes, would let college athletes earn compensation: College athletes in Oklahoma would be able to hire an agent and earn money beginning this summer if Gov. Kevin Stitt gives final approval to legislation that cleared the Oklahoma Legislature on Tuesday. Sixteen other states have already passed similar bills to allow college athletes to receive financial compensation on their names, images or likenesses, something for decades that had been prohibited by the NCAA. [The Oklahoman]

Sales, use tax collections surge to highest in OKC history: Oklahoma City’s most recent sales and use tax report shows combined General Fund collections at their highest levels in the city’s history, a dramatic increase compared to the same time frame last year and well above projections. [The Journal Record]

Gov. Stitt signs FY 2022 state budget into law: On Monday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law the Fiscal Year 2022 state budget package included in House Bill 2900, the general appropriations bill. The FY 2022 budget cuts taxes for all Oklahomans, invests a record $3.2 billion in education, and replenishes over $800 million in state reserve funds that were significantly reduced to offset pandemic-related revenue reductions last year for $1.3 billion in savings for the state of Oklahoma. [KGOU]

Many police reform bills introduced during Oklahoma’s legislative session don’t get out of committee: The calls have been loud for police reform legislation one year since the death of George Floyd. But depending on where you are, there have been few or no reform bills passed. There were multiple bills aimed at police reform in the past year in Oklahoma, but most did not make it past committee. [KOCO]

Finish line in sight for President Donald J. Trump Highway as bill heads to governor’s desk: The much-traveled President Donald J. Trump Highway bill completed its final lap in the Legislature and coasted on down to the governor’s desk Tuesday morning. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

A year after George Floyd’s death: What has changed in Oklahoma City?: Angelique Chandler spoke for many in Bricktown, after a week of racial justice demonstrations a year ago sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, when she said, “Let’s just seek out change after this.” A year later, the promise of change hangs in the air, animating some Oklahoma City policymakers but leaving police reform advocates increasingly frustrated. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City police pursuit ends in crash, woman killed: A woman died after the car she was driving was struck by a stolen pickup truck being pursed by Oklahoma City police. The truck, reported stolen Monday, was tracked by the owner using his telephone, relaying its location to officers who spotted and began pursuing it, according to Capt. Dan Stewart. [AP News]

Economic Opportunity

Editorial: Oasis Fresh Market ends food desert for north Tulsa residents: We join the cheers and celebration about last week’s Oasis Fresh Market opening, which finally ends an unconscionable food desert. The market at 1725 N. Peoria Ave. is stocked with fresh, affordable food with an array of options for healthier lifestyles. It provides the same types of amenities that large grocers in other sections of the city offer. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Arts Festival, homeless services, “period poverty” taken up in OKC Council [OKC Free Press]
  • Lawton City Council approves 2021-2022 budget [OKC Free Press]
  • Tulsa Public Schools bond campaign supporters reiterate call for ‘yes’ vote [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“Mabel Little lost her home and business in 1921 and then lost her home and business again during urban renewal. The city paid her $16,000. She was denied that generational wealth twice. And there were many families in Greenwood who shared that same story.” 

-Carlos Moreno, author of “The Victory at Greenwood,” speaking about Greenwood resident Mabel Little who lost everything in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and again in 1971 when her home and business were taken to build a highway through the heart of Greenwood. He estimates her could have been worth about $1.3 million in present value, far more than what she had left when she died in 2001. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s ranking in state mental health agency per capita mental health services expenditures.

[Source: Kaiser Family Foundation]

Policy Note

Amid progress on COVID-19, a mental health crisis looms: May is Mental Health Awareness month. This particular May also marks what some are calling a turning point in the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, with states across the South and the rest of the country this week reporting the lowest level of positive cases in months. Yet even as increased vaccinations are leading to a decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the mental toll of the virus continues. And it may not be fully measured for years to come, if ever. But before COVID-19 struck, 1 in 5 U.S. adults — nearly 50 million people — were already living with mental illness. People with mental illness are already more like to have lower incomes and be uninsured.  And though studies have found an association between Medicaid expansion and greater insurance coverage among low-income adults with depression, most states in the South — the country’s poorest and Blackest region — have refused to expand Medicaid, making it harder for residents to get the care they need. [Facing South]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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