The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission held a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 21 for Greenwood Rising, a history center honoring the Greenwood District before and after the Tulsa Race Massacre. The facility will be built on land located at the southeast corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street.
Greenwood Rising is anticipated to feature exhibits and interactive experiences tailored to a range of ages, learning styles and knowledge levels. All components will be designed to tell the story of Tulsa’s Greenwood Historical District and the national context in which it “emerged, thrived and survived,’ according to the Centennial Commission.
This prime site is: (1) situated just north of the Frisco Tracks, an important symbolic marker in the Greenwood District: (2) positioned so as to allow for walkability from a bustling point near “Deep Greenwood”; and (3) located at the single most iconic entrance into the Greenwood District. Construction of Greenwood Rising and 21 North Greenwood is expected to be completed in the late spring of 2021.
Among those attending the groundbreaking were Matt Pinnell, Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor; Kevin Mathews, Oklahoma State Senator; G.T. Bynum, Tulsa mayor; Phil Armstrong, Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission project director; Peggy Simmons, Public Service Company of Oklahoma president; Maggie Hille Yar, Hille Foundation; Ray Hoyt, Tulsa Regional Tourism; descendant Tracy Gibbs; Tulsa singer Alisha Jones, and Whitney Stauffer, partner, Selser Schaefer Architects.
The project was enhanced by gifts from the Tulsa business community. Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) announced grants from the AEP Foundation totaling half a million dollars to help ensure world-class facilities and programming for the Greenwood Rising project. The AEP Foundation is the charitable arm of PSO’s parent company, American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP).
Speaking on behalf of the AEP Foundation, Simmons pointed to PSO’s longstanding involvement in Tulsa, and noted that cultural vitality is essential to a strong community. “Valuing diversity and promoting equity are part of our culture and central to our success,” said Simmons. “Building a strong sense of community in our headquarters city is an extension of our core value – service. We’re excited to be part of this historic project that reflects the priorities of PSO and the AEP Foundation.”
Students in the Tulsa area will benefit from a $40,000 gift from the Arvest Foundation to the Tulsa Community Foundation for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. The gift will support field trips to Greenwood Rising, the multimillion-dollar history center planned for the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street. The field trips also may include tours of other landmarks and establishments.
According to the Arvest Foundation, “This $40,000 investment advances the educational mission of the Centennial Commission and is an example to other potential funders seeking to make a significant difference at a critical time.
“We are pleased to present this donation on behalf of the Arvest Foundation to support the efforts of the Centennial Commission to promote critical thinking from our students in terms of our local history and how it relates to the challenges we all face today,” said Kirk Hays, president of Arvest Bank in Tulsa. “We trust this donation demonstrates the foundation’s ongoing commitment to education and to the children in the region.”