THE SENATE

S.C.R. NO.

49

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

acknowledging the forthcoming centennial of the 1921 tulsa race massacre.

 

 


†††† WHEREAS, in the late 1800s, an incredible number of Americans with African descent (African Americans) began to move away from Southern states to escape the region's systemic lack of opportunity; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, Tulsa County in Oklahoma, which reveled in economic success under its title "the Oil Capital of the World," was an attractive destination for people seeking opportunities; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, in the early 1900s, due to the passage of Jim Crow laws (or racial segregation laws) after the Reconstruction Act of 1867, many Americans continued to believe and support the ideas of white supremacy and thus, racial segregation and oppression continued largely unabated after the Civil War; and

 

WHEREAS, violent crimes such as lynching , which went unchecked by the justice system, were committed to enforce racial segregation and instill terror in the African American population; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, pursuant to Jim Crow laws passed by the State of Oklahoma and Tulsa County, the African Americans in Tulsa were confined to the "Greenwood District", which they subsequently developed into a nationally-renowned entrepreneurial center known as the "Black Wall Street", with over ten thousand residents by 1920; and

 

WHEREAS, on May 30, 1921, a nineteen year old African American man was alleged to have assaulted a white teenaged girl under dubious circumstances, but propelled by the sensational reporting by a local newspaper, the brewing resentment amongst white Americans against the rising wealth and success of African Americans, and a racially hostile climate in general, white residents instigated calls for the man's lynching; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, on May 31, 1921, hundreds of white men that appeared to have the makings of a lynch mob congregated near the Tulsa County Courthouse where the young African American man was being held, demanding that he be turned over to them; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, the arrival of a small group of armed African American residents who came to the Courthouse to ensure the young African American man's safety was interpreted by the white residents as a "Negro uprising"; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, from May 31 to June 1, 1921, thousands of weapon‑wielding white men invaded the Greenwood District and decimated the African American community in what is now known as the "Tulsa Race Massacre"; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, the local officials not only failed to take actions to calm or contain the violence but aggravated it by providing firearms and ammunition to and deputizing hundreds of white men from the crowd that gathered as a potential lynch mob, whom in that capacity engaged in overt and often illegal acts that destroyed the Greenwood community; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, the white mob indiscriminately killed numerous African American residents, and looted, damaged, deliberately burned, or otherwise destroyed an estimated 1,256 homes, as well as virtually every other structure in the Greenwood District including churches, schools, businesses, the library, and the only hospital; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, under martial law declared by the Governor of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma National Guard arrested the remaining 6,000 residents of Greenwood, detained them in internment camps, forced them to into labor, and refused to release them until a white person applied for their release and vouched for their subsequent behavior; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, in a period of less than twenty-four hours, the white mobís violence led to the destruction of thirty-five square blocks of the Greenwood District, deaths of an estimated three hundred people, injuries of over eight hundred people, property damage of over $2,000,000, and nearly ten thousand homeless African Americans; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, local officials actively impeded the African American Tulsans' effort to rebuild their community by refusing support for reconstruction from other cities and imposing a restrictive fire code that made rebuilding too expensive for most residents; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, none of the state and local officials nor white residents who participated in the massacre were held accountable for their acts of violence or contributions thereto, as the officials advanced a narrative that attributed the massacre to Greenwood residents, which induced the all-white grand jury to conclude that the African Americans caused the violence and the attorney for the state gave immunity to all white persons who looted the homes of or murdered African Americans; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, for decades, the terror, violence, and losses of the massacre was largely omitted from local, state, and national histories until the Oklahoma State Legislature created a commission in 1997, to study the event; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, on February 28, 2001, the commission issued a report that set forth a historical record of the massacre and recommended that reparations be made to the identified survivors and their descendants; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, despite the commission's recommendation, reparations to the survivors of the massacre and their descendants have not been made;

 

†††† WHEREAS, the issues of systemic racism, police brutality, and racially motivated violence and human rights violations against Black people continue to exist in the United States; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, the year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre; and

 

†††† WHEREAS, in July 2020, resolutions to recognize the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre were introduced in both chambers of the United State Congress; now, therefore,

 

†††† BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Legislature acknowledges the forthcoming centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre; and

 

†††† BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this body acknowledges the historical significance of this event not only to honor the lives and legacies of the African Americans killed during the massacre and those who were left to suffer from the loss of their homes and livelihoods, but also to condemn the continued legacy of racism; and

 

†††† BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a certified copy of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor.

 

 

 

 

OFFERED BY:

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Report Title:

Tulsa Race Massacre