Bench by the Road Dedicated in Tulsa’s Greenwood District

GTR Media group photo
COMMEMORATION CEREMONY: From left at the ceremony are, from the Toni Morrison Society, Dr. Craig Stutman, Sharon Jessee, Dr. Carolyn Denard, and Dr. Lynne Simpson. To her left are Paul C. Bauman, President Rotary Club of Tulsa; Phil Armstrong, project director 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission; Senator Kevin Matthews, chair of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission; Brenda Alford, descendant 1921 Massacre survivors; and Rev. Dr. Robert Turner, pastor Vernon A.M.E. Church.

As part of a significant gift from the Rotary Club of Tulsa’s partnership with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, two special benches have been dedicated in the Greenwood District.
The benches come from Toni Morrison Society’s “Bench by the Road Project,” which is a memorial history and community outreach initiative launched in 2006. “Bench by the Road” comes from Morrison’s remarks in a 1989 interview about the lack of memorials for slaves. The Project places benches and plaques at sites commemorating significant moments, individuals, and locations within the history of the African Diaspora.
A commemoration ceremony was held April 3 inside Vernon AME Church. A second ceremony was held in front of Mabel B. Little Heritage House for the bench that was placed outside near the Greenwood Cultural Center.
The benches are part of the $70,000 contribution to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission from the Rotary Club of Tulsa Foundation for the Greenwood Rising Museum to be located at the southeast corner of Greenwood and Archer. The gift to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission reflects a gift to the region’s future, according to club officers.
Rotary is dedicated to six areas of focus to build international relationships, improve lives, and create a better world to support peace efforts and end polio forever. The six areas are: promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies.
 The vision of Rotary International is: “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe in our communities, and in ourselves.”