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Frank Greenwood was born in Methuen Mass., 10 January 1915 and enlisted in the Naval Reserve 17 July 1940. He was later appointed Midshipman, received training at the Naval Reserve Midshipman's School, and commissioned 12 December 1940. Lt. ( j.g. ) Greenwood was
killed 12 November 1942 when his ship Erie was torpedoed while on convoy duty in the Caribbean.
(DE - 79: dp. 1,400; 1. 306'; b. 37'; dr. 9'5"; s. 23.5 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 4 1.1", 8 20mm., 3 21" tt., 2 dct., 8 dcp.,
1 deep. (hh); cl. Buckley)
Greenwood (DE-679) was launched by the Fore River Ship Yard, Quincy, Mass., 21 August 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Laura Greenwood, mother of Lt. (j.g,) Greenwood; and commissioned 26 September 1943, Lt. Comdr. A. W. Slayton in command.
Greenwood sailed for the Pacific 29 November 1943, reaching Samoa, via the Panama Canal 26 December. She spent nearly a year in the South Pacific escorting transports and cargo ships through the New Hebrides and the Solomons, with side trips to Australia. On 30 December 1944 Greenwood sailed from New Guinea to join Admiral Kinkaid's 7th Fleet at Leyte Gulf. After escorting 26 merchantmen and LSTs to the Philippines and screening them while there, Greenwood sailed for Ulithi. There she picked up a convoy of supply and troop ships bound for Iwo Jima, still the scene of bloody battle, and sailed 5 March. Departing the Iwo Jima area 27 March, Greenwood sailed to Eniwetok, where she conducted submarine and antisubmarine training exercises.
After war's end, Greenwood sailed for a much-needed overhaul at Mare Island, and on 4 September 1945 steamed under the Golden Gate Bridge to end 22 months continuous service in the Pacific.
Following overhaul, Greenwood sailed for the East Coast via Panama 2 January 1946. After exercises with the Atlantic Fleet at Panama, she continued to New London, arriving 10 April. The following 3 years saw Greenwood functioning as an escort along the East Coast from Maine to Key West. On 2 May 1949 she reported at Key West for duty as school ship for the Fleet Sonar School, and remained in that useful service for nearIy 6 years. After tours of escort duty at Norfolk and Newport, R.I., 1954 through 1957 Greenwood returned to Key West in July 1957. Six months later she was designated Selected Reserve Training Ship for the 6th Naval District, based at Charleston.
Placed out of commission in service 2 September 1958, Greenwood served as a reserve training ship until 2 October 1961, when she recommissioned in response to the renewed Berlin Crisis. After training along the coast, she reported to Key West for further duty with the Fleet Sonar School 7 January 1962. As world tension eased, Greenwood decommissioned again 1 August 1962 but again stayed in service. Operating out of St. Petersburg, Fla., she continued to conduct reserve training cruises designed to keep the Navy's fighting strength and potential at their peak through the next five years. Greenwood was struck from the Navy List 20 February 1967 and sold for scrapping. Greenwood received 2 battle stars for World War II service.
TULSA’S HISTORICGREENWOOD DISTRICT
Early in the twentieth century, Tulsa’s African American community, the “Greenwood District,” crafted a nationally-renowned entrepreneurial center. De jure segregation confined African American dollars within this enclave. The resultant economic detour—the diversion of black dollars away from the off-limits white commercial sector—morphed the thirty-five-square-block area into “Black Wall Street,” a dynamic business hub rife with risk-takers and deal makers.
A talented cadre of African American businesspersons and entrepreneurs plied their trades.
Simon Berry masterminded a nickel-a-ride jitney service, a bus line, a boutique hotel, and a charter plane service.
Dr. A.C. Jackson, a physician christened the most able Negro surgeon in America by the Mayo brothers, transcended the color line, servicing both white and “Colored” patients.
John and Loula Williams launched multiple ventures: a theatre, a confectionery, a rooming house, and a garage.
Mabel B. Little established a popular beauty salon.
E.W. Woods, the first principal of the all-black Booker T. Washington High School (1913), earned a reputation as “the quintessential Tulsan” for his preeminent leadership in the realm of public education.
Greenwood DE-79 - History
Tulsa beckoned multiple souls in the early 1900s. These seekers, white and African American alike, shared a vintage American optimism. They came in search of a better life. The overwhelming majority of the African American migrants eventually located in the area that would become the Greenwood District, the main thoroughfare of which was called "Black Wall Street."
As the Greenwood District began to emerge in the early 1900s, rigid segregation held sway. Segregation, ironically, gave rise to a nationally renowned black entrepreneurial center. As families arrived and homes sprang up in the Greenwood District, the need for retail and service businesses, schools, and entertainment became pronounced. A class of African American entrepreneurs rose to the occasion, creating a vibrant, vital, self-contained economy that would become Black Wall Street, the talk of the nation.
Black Wall Street, more commonly known simply as Greenwood Avenue, had it all: nightclubs, hotels, cafés, newspapers, clothiers, movie theaters, doctors' and lawyers' offices, grocery stores, beauty salons, shoeshine shops, and more. So developed and refined was Greenwood Avenue, the heart of the Greenwood District, that many compared it favorably to legendary thoroughfares such as Beale Street in Memphis and State Street in Chicago.
In the spring of 1921 underlying social and economic tension in Tulsa sparked the worst racial violence in American history. As many as three hundred people lost their lives. Property damage ran into the millions of dollars. The Greenwood District, the thirty-five-square-block-area that comprised the city's entire African American community, lay in ruins. Tulsa's African Americans ultimately turned tragedy into triumph. They rebuilt the ravaged Greenwood District, which by 1942 boasted 242 black-owned and black-operated business establishments.
Integration, urban renewal, a new business climate, and the aging of the early Greenwood District pioneers caused the community to decline through the years, beginning in the 1960s and continuing throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Few businesses remained at the end of the twentieth century. The Greenwood Cultural Center, a multipurpose educational, arts, and humanities complex promoting history, culture, and positive race relations, anchors the modern-day Greenwood District. This multimillion-dollar community landmark, constructed in the 1980s, serves as a direct link to the district's storied past and as a living memorial to the legacy of Tulsa's historic Greenwood District and its Black Wall Street.
Scott Ellsworth, Death in a Promised Land (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982).
Eddie Faye Gates, They Came Searching: How Blacks Sought the Promised Land in Tulsa (Austin, Tex.: Eakin Press, 1997).
Hannibal B. Johnson, Black Wall Street–From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District (Austin, Tex.: Eakin Press, 1998).
Hannibal B. Johnson, Up From the Ashes–A Story About Building Community (Austin, Tex.: Eakin Press, 1999).
Mable B. Little, Fire on Mount Zion: My Life and History as a Black Woman in America (Langston, Okla.: Melvin B. Tolson Black Heritage Center, Langston University, 1990).
Mary E. Jones Parrish, Events of the Tulsa Disaster (Tulsa, Okla.: Out on a Limb Publishing, 1998).
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Welcome to Greenwood College
Greenwood College is a thriving, multicultural senior high school in the Perth northern suburbs. The College provides high quality teaching and learning focused on academic success, strong pastoral care and innovative and specialised educational programs that meet the needs of all students.
We work collaboratively to enable all students to Learn, Grow and Change. The College supports students to adopt a growth mind-set in all their endeavours, to engage in education for life, to develop resiliency and ensure their readiness for pathways beyond school .
After oil was discovered in 1901, Tulsa shifted from being a “cow town” to a “boom town.” Thousands of men and their families moved there to work in the oil industry.
In addition to being barred from participation in this industry, Black newcomers were relegated to North Tulsa.
In 1905, Emma and O.W. Gurley purchased land that was designated for “coloreds only.”
Black entrepreneurs actively developed the district into a self-sustaining economic neighborhood. Renamed Greenwood, community members worked to create a society that benefited and honored them.
Several men set up offices where they provided medical, legal, and professional services. Men and women alike owned and operated grocery stores, restaurants, salons, and barbershops.
Intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1921
Oklahoma State University-Tulsa. Library. Special Collections and Archives
Some businesses were located on the southern end of Greenwood Avenue. This part of town was nicknamed “Deep Greenwood,” and was home to dozens of Black-owned businesses such as the Economy Drug Company, William Anderson’s jewelry store, Henry Lilly’s upholstery shop, and A.S. Newkirk’s photography studio.
Historians and economists estimate that a dollar circulated up to 19 times in Greenwood before it left the community.
The community also boasted of two Black-owned newspapers, the Tulsa Star and the Oklahoma Sun.
Visitors to Greenwood were common and could find a room in Greenwood’s four hotels. There they could join friends and family in movie-going at two theaters.
The Williams Dreamland Theatre. Photo by Greenwood Cultural Center/Getty Images.
In 1913, the community opened Dunbar Grade School and Booker T. Washington High school to educate its youth.
By 1920, more than 10,000 people made their homes in Greenwood.
While Greenwood sparkled in some places, neglect by the city of the Tulsa and its refusal to serve Greenwood, showed in others. Several members of the community suffered from a lack of running water, sanitary sewage systems, and paved roads. Greenwood inhabitants were denied these basic rights by Tulsa politicians who “practically laughed [residents of Greenwood] out of the room” when they asked for better infrastructural services.
Though numbers of White Tulsans ridiculed the district, calling it “Little Africa” or “N-word town,” Black Americans all over the country celebrated the accomplishments of many Greenwood men and women despite the odds.
Greenwood attracted nationally renowned African American leaders and activists such as Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois.
Though it cannot be verified, Washington supposedly gave Greenwood its nickname: “Black Wall Street.”
by Piper Reese and Elizabeth Thomas
Tara Aveilhe, “Oklahoma: Home to More Historically All-Black Towns than Any Other U.S. State.” Oklahoma Center for the Humanities. The University of Tulsa, March 16, 2018. https://humanities.utulsa.edu/oklahoma-home-historically-black-towns-u-s-state/Jimmie
Larry Hill, Antoine Gara, Janice Gerda, and Karen Sapp. “Ottowa W. Gurley: The Visionary” in Black Wallstreet, n.d. http://blackwallstreet.org/owgurley
Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa 1921: Reporting a Massacre. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2019.
In the early 20th century, Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood was a thriving mecca of black business. The combination of the oil boom in Oklahoma saw wealth pouring into Greenwood and Jim Crow laws meant those dollars continued to circulate within the black community. The entrepreneurs of Greenwood believed black people had a better chance of economic progress if they pooled their resources, worked together, and supported each other’s businesses. Soon, people like Booker T. Washington spread word around the nation that Tulsa was the ‘promised land’ of opportunity for blacks in America and ‘Black Wall Street’ was born.
In 1921, white Tulsans with the backing of city leaders attacked Greenwood and burned 40 square blocks to the ground. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands lost their homes or businesses in one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history. For years, this dark chapter was left out of textbooks as Tulsa attempted to erase this part of its past.
Many African Americans came to Oklahoma during the Native American removal. When these tribes came to Oklahoma, their slaves or people of color living among them as tribal members (notably in the case of the Seminoles) were forced to move with them. This proved problematic as rules concerning the freedom of African Americans differed between tribes. Others later traveled to Oklahoma for the land rushes in 1889 through 1891 and continued in the years leading to 1907, the year Oklahoma became a state, hoping that a majority-black population could build a firewall against further extension of the system of racial degradation and segregation known as Jim Crow. Oklahoma represented the hope of change and provided a chance for African Americans to not only leave the lands of slavery but oppose the harsh racism of their previous homes.  They travelled to Oklahoma by wagons, horses, trains, and even on foot.
Many of the settlers were relatives of Native Americans who had traveled on foot with the Five Civilized Tribes along the Trail of Tears. Others were the descendants of people who had fled to Indian Territory. Many Black residents were also from the various Muskogee-speaking peoples, such as Creeks and Seminoles, while some had been adopted by the tribes after the Emancipation Proclamation. 
White residents of Tulsa referred to the area north of the Frisco railroad tracks as "Little Africa." The success of Black-owned businesses there led Booker T. Washington to visit in 1905  and encourage residents to continue to build and cooperate among themselves, reinforcing what he called "industrial capacity" and thus securing their ownership and independence.  Washington highlighted that he had directed the creation of a 4,000 acre totally black-owned district on the edge of Tuskegee, under the supervision of C. W. Greene, to model Washington's vision it was named Greenwood and formally organized in 1901.  The Tulsa community was formally organized the year after Washington's visit, 1906, with the name Greenwood. By 1921, it was home to about 10,000 black residents. 
Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa was important because it ran north for over a mile from the Frisco Railroad yards, and it was one of the few streets that did not cross through both black and white neighborhoods. The citizens of Greenwood took pride in this fact because it was something they had all to themselves and did not have to share with the white community of Tulsa. Greenwood was home to a thriving Black commercial district, whose many red brick buildings belonged to Black Americans and housed thriving businesses, including grocery stores, banks, libraries, and much more one of the most affluent African-American communities in the country, leading to the nickname, "Black Wall Street." 
O. W. Gurley Edit
Around the start of the 20th century, O. W. Gurley, a wealthy black landowner from Arkansas, came to what was then known as Indian Territory to participate in the Oklahoma Land run of 1889. The young entrepreneur had just resigned from a presidential appointment under president Grover Cleveland in order to strike out on his own." 
In 1906, Gurley moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he purchased 40 acres of land which was "only to be sold to colored." 
Among Gurley's first businesses was a rooming house which was located on a dusty trail near the railroad tracks. This road was given the name Greenwood Avenue, named for a city in Mississippi. The area became very popular among black migrants fleeing the oppression in Mississippi. They would find refuge in Gurley's building, as the racial persecution from the south was non-existent on Greenwood Avenue.
In addition to his rooming house, Gurley built three two-story buildings and five residences and bought an 80-acre (32 ha) farm in Rogers County. Gurley also founded what is today Vernon AME Church.  He also helped build a black Masonic lodge and an employment agency. 
This implementation of "colored" segregation set the Greenwood boundaries of separation that still exist: Pine Street to the north, Archer Street and the Frisco tracks to the south, Cincinnati Street on the west, and Lansing Street on the east. 
Another black American entrepreneur, J.B. Stradford and his wife Bertie Eleanor Wiley Stradford, arrived in Tulsa in 1899. He believed that black people had a better chance of economic progress if they pooled their resources, worked together and supported each other's businesses. He bought large tracts of real estate in the northeastern part of Tulsa, which he had subdivided and sold exclusively to other blacks. Gurley and a number of other blacks soon followed suit. Stradford later built the Stradford Hotel on Greenwood, where blacks could enjoy the amenities of the downtown hotels who served only whites. It was said to be the largest black-owned hotel in the United States. 
In 1914, Gurley's net worth was reported to be $150,000 (about $3 million in 2018 dollars).  And he was made a sheriff's deputy by the city of Tulsa to police Greenwood's residents, which resulted in some viewing him with suspicion.  By 1921, Gurley owned more than one hundred properties in Greenwood and had an estimated net worth between $500,000 and $1 million (between $6.8 million and $13.6 million in 2018 dollars). 
Gurley's prominence and wealth were short lived, and his position as a sheriff's deputy did not protect during the race massacre. In a matter of moments, he lost everything. During the race massacre, The Gurley Hotel at 112 N. Greenwood, the street's first commercial enterprise, valued at $55,000, was lost, and with it Brunswick Billiard Parlor and Dock Eastmand & Hughes Cafe. Gurley also owned a two-story building at 119 N. Greenwood. It housed Carter's Barbershop, Hardy Rooms, a pool hall, and cigar store. All were reduced to ruins. By his account and court records, he lost nearly $200,000 in the 1921 race massacre. 
According to the memoirs of Greenwood pioneer, B.C. Franklin,  Gurley left Greenwood for Los Angeles, California.  Gurley and his wife, Emma, moved to a 4-bedroom home in South Los Angeles and ran a small hotel.  He was honored in a 2009 documentary film called, Before They Die! The Road to Reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Survivors. 
Black Wall Street Edit
The Greenwood district in Tulsa came to be known as "Black Wall Street", one of the most commercially successful and affluent majority African-American communities in the United States. [ citation needed ] Booker T. Washington referred to the Greenwood neighborhood as “Negro Wall Street.”  Many Americans, including African-Americans, had moved to Oklahoma in hopes of gaining a shot at quick economic gains through the mining and oil industries. Even though African-Americans constituted a small percentage of the overall population in Oklahoma, the percentage of African-Americans in Tulsa had significantly increased to around 12.3 percent during the oil boom. Many African-Americans had come from the Deep South and Kansas because of the opportunity to strike gold because of the rich oil fields. During the Jim Crow era, African-Americans were not allowed to make purchases or services in predominantly white areas. In particular, Oklahoma was known to have some of the harshest and most unjust Jim Crow laws in the country. [ citation needed ] Some economists theorize this forced many African-Americans to spend their money where they would feel welcomed, effectively insulating cash flow to within the black community and allowing Greenwood to flourish and prosper. 
On "Black Wall Street", there were African-American attorneys, real estate agents, entrepreneurs, and doctors who offered their services in the neighborhood.  One primary example of the black entrepreneurial spirit is illustrated by J.B. Stradford. He had graduated from Indiana University with a law degree and had moved to Greenwood to purchase various land vacancies in the area. After buying these vacant spaces, he would then sell them to African-American residents for redevelopment so that these empty spaces could be transformed into residential houses and profitable businesses. By 1921, Stradford had been considered one of the wealthiest African-Americans in the country as he owned numerous properties in Greenwood and even had his hotel named after him: Stratford Hotel.  In addition to Mr. Stradford, there were also investments and reinvestments into the community. One executive of the local YMCA recalled that there were several barbershops, several grocery stores, and even a funeral home service. Greenwood was known to be an active religious community as there were numerous black-owned churches, Christian youth services, and other religious organizations.
1921 massacre Edit
Foundation of resentment Edit
Many white residents felt intimidated by the prosperity, growth, and size of "Black Wall Street."  Not only was Greenwood, Tulsa expanding in population, but it was also expanding its physical boundaries, which eventually collided with the boundaries of white neighborhoods. According to several newspapers and articles at the time, there were reports of hateful letters sent to prominent business leaders within "Black Wall Street," which demanded that they stop overstepping their boundaries into the white segregated portion of Tulsa.  White residents grew increasingly resentful about the wealth of the Greenwood community. The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 started when police accused a Black shoe shiner of assaulting a white woman. 
Revitalization and preservation efforts in the 1990s and 2000s resulted in tourism initiatives and memorials. John Hope Franklin Greenwood Reconciliation Park and the Greenwood Cultural Center honor the victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre, although the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce plans a larger museum to be built with participation from the National Park Service. 
In 2008, Tulsa announced that it sought to move the city's minor league baseball team, the Tulsa Drillers, to a new stadium, now known as ONEOK Field to be constructed in the Greenwood District. The proposed development includes a hotel, baseball stadium, and an expanded mixed-use district.  Along with the new stadium, there will be extra development for the city blocks that surround the stadium.
The legacy of Tulsa Race Massacre Edit
After the Tulsa Race Massacre, many residents had promised to rebuild after the massive destruction. Within ten years after the massacre, surviving residents who chose to remain in Tulsa rebuilt much of the district. They accomplished this despite the opposition of many white Tulsa political and business leaders and punitive rezoning laws enacted to prevent reconstruction. There were over 240 black businesses in Greenwood in 1941. It continued as a vital black community until segregation was overturned by the federal government during the 1950s and 1960s. Desegregation encouraged black citizens to live and shop elsewhere in the city, causing Greenwood to lose much of its original vitality.  Since then, city leaders have attempted to encourage other economic development activity nearby. Some residents attempted to sue the city and filed insurance claims against it, but all of those claims were denied by the city government. People within the African-American community after the Tulsa Race Massacre rarely discussed the historic significance of Greenwood after the Tulsa Race Massacre because of fear that it might occur again.    [ citation needed ]
In 1996, a commission was established to examine recommendations to compensate and support the descendants of the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. In 2001, a final report was released that highly recommended that victims’ descendants receive full reparations. Alfred Brophy, an American legal scholar, outlined four specific reasons why survivors and their descendants should receive full compensation: the damage affected African-American families, the city was culpable, and city leaders acknowledged that they had a moral responsibility to help rebuild the infrastructure after the race massacre. 
The Greenwood Historic District comprises an area bounded by the Crosstown Expressway (I-244) on the north, Elgin Avenue on the west, Greenwood Avenue on the east and the Frisco tracks on the south.  A portion of the area that was Greenwood historically extended into space occupied by the Expressway and is now occupied by the campus of Oklahoma State University–Tulsa.
The City of Tulsa submitted an application to the U.S. Department of the Interior, for the "Greenwood Historic District" on September 29, 2011. On August 8, 2012, the Coordinator of the National Register Program wrote the Tulsa Preservation Commission that the proposed District would be renamed as the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.  As of November 2014 [update] , the proposed Historic District had not been implemented. [ citation needed ]
Greenwood Rising History Center Edit
The Greenwood Rising History Center will be built at 21 North Greenwood Avenue on the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street. Construction of the History Center and 21 North Greenwood are expected to be completed in late May or June 2021. 
Greenwood Cultural Center Edit
The Greenwood Cultural Center, dedicated on October 22, 1995, was created as a tribute to Greenwood's history and as a symbol of hope for the community's future.  It has a museum, an African American art gallery, a large banquet hall, and it housed the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame until 2007. The total cost of the Center was almost $3 million.  The Center plays a key role in the reconstruction and unity of the Greenwood Historic District.
The Greenwood Cultural Center sponsors and promotes education and cultural events showcasing African American heritage. It also provides positive images of North Tulsa to the community, and attracts a diversity of visitors to the Center and to the city of Tulsa. 
In 2011, the Greenwood Cultural Center lost all funding from the State of Oklahoma, threatening its existence.  The community responded with donations and GoFundMe campaigns, and the Cherokee Nation contributed to its summer programs. 
Michael Bloomberg donated one million dollars to the Greenwood Art Project in 2019 and made it his first stop on his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on January 19, 2020. 
John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park Edit
Ground was broken in 2008 at 415 North Detroit Avenue for a proposed Reconciliation Park to commemorate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. John Hope Franklin, son of B. C. Franklin and a notable historian, attended the groundbreaking ceremony.   After his death in 2009, the park was renamed John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park. Attractions include two sculptures and a dozen bronze informational plaques. It is a park primarily designed for education and reflection, and does not contain facilities for sports or other recreation. 
Originally funded by the State of Oklahoma, the City of Tulsa and private donors, it is now owned by the city and managed by a non-profit corporation, the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation.   
The arrival of railroads in the 1880s, saved the city - with two lines running to downtown Greenwood, close to the Yazoo River. Once again, Greenwood emerged as a prime shipping point for cotton. Downtown's Front Street bordering the Yazoo bustled with cotton factors and other related businesses, earning that section the name Cotton Row. The city continued to prosper in this way well into the 1940s. Recent years have seen a decline in cotton planting.
Greenwood's Grand Boulevard was once named one of America's ten most beautiful streets by the U.S. Chambers of Commerce and the Garden Clubs of America. The 300 oak trees lining Grand Boulevard were planted in 1916, by Sally Humphreys Gwin, a charter member of the Greenwood Garden Club. In 1950, Gwin received a citation from the National Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution in recognition of her work in the conservation of trees.
At the time of the massacre, the Greenwood neighborhood had a population of nearly 10,000, including descendants of slaves as well as people who, according to the 2001 report of a commission that investigated the massacre, had come because Oklahoma seemed to offer “a chance to escape the harsher racial realities of life” in the Deep South.
Black Tulsans, segregated into Greenwood, had built a thriving business district known as Black Wall Street after O. W. Gurley, a wealthy Black landowner from Arkansas, moved there and started opening businesses for Black residents. He named the main street after Greenwood, Miss., and the name was later extended to the whole neighborhood.
Thirty residents owned grocery stores there in 1921, said State Senator Kevin Matthews, a Democrat who represents Tulsa. There were restaurants, hotels, theaters and transportation services run by Black entrepreneurs.
“That’s what people don’t know,” Mr. Matthews said. “We had that kind of prosperity in 1921. This was Black Wall Street for a reason, and it was burned down and destroyed for a reason.”
The Heart of Black Tulsa
Among the latter was the office of A.C. Jackson, a nationally respected physician who was shot dead outside his home as he attempted to surrender to the mob. A couple of blocks away was a marker for the Stradford Hotel, at the time the largest black-owned hotel in the United States, the culmination of a remarkable American journey that had begun in slavery. The Stradford Hotel was never rebuilt, either.
Late in his life, J.B. Stradford set down his memoirs in careful cursive, later transcribed into 32 typewritten pages. The manuscript has been handed down to six generations and counting. For those who share Stradford’s blood, it is a sacred text. “It’s like the family Magna Carta or Holy Grail or Ten Commandments,” Nate Calloway, a Los Angeles filmmaker and Stradford’s great-great-grandson, told me recently.
From left, after the attack by white Tulsans, attorney I.H. Spears, secretary Effie Thompson and attorney B.C. Franklin worked temporarily in a tent office. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Tulsa Friends and John W. and Karen R. Franklin) A studio photograph of the Cotten family taken in 1902. The names of the family members are on or above their likenesses: Carrie, Mildred, Loula, Elizabeth, Myrtle, Tom, Sallie, Susie and Ernest. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Families of Anita Williams Christopher and David Owen Williams) This bentwood armchair purportedly belonged to a black church in Tulsa that was looted during the race massacre. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Vanessa Adams-Harris, citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation) This desk was used by the Williams family, owners of the 750-seat Dreamland Theater and the thriving Williams’ Confectionary in the Greenwood district of Tulsa. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Families of Anita Williams Christopher and David Owen Williams) Burned Lincoln pennies from the site of the 1921 massacre. One is dated 1915. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Scott Ellsworth) This Remington Rand Model 17 typewriter was used in B.C. Franklin’s law firm. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of John W. and Karen R. Franklin)
Calloway first read the memoirs nearly three decades ago, when he was in college, and has gone back to them many times in his effort to bring Stradford’s story to the screen. Though the memoir is closely held by the family, Calloway agreed last fall to study it again on my behalf and share some of its contents.
The story begins on September 10, 1861, in Versailles, Kentucky, the day John the Baptist Stradford was born. He was the son of a slave named Julius Caesar Stradford and the property of enslaver Henry Moss. The enslaver’s daughter changed the Stradford family’s trajectory by teaching J.C. to read and write. J.C. taught his children.
In 1881, not even two decades after the end of the Civil War, J.B. Stradford enrolled at Oberlin College, in Ohio, where he met the woman he would marry, Bertie Wiley. After graduation, the couple returned to Kentucky, but now the young man was a school principal and the owner of a barbershop.
Stradford’s memoir describes the chilling story of a black man accused of raping a white woman. “She was having an affair with one of her servants, and the husband walked in and caught the two of them,” Calloway said, summarizing the passage. “She yelled ‘rape.’ The black guy ran away and the whites caught him. Stradford said others in his community ran and hid, because typically what would happen is that the whites would unleash their wrath on the entire black community. But Stradford didn’t run. He intentionally went to witness the lynching. He wrote that the man was hanged up by a tree, but his neck did not snap. He suffocated. The most vivid detail was how the black man’s tongue was hanging out of his mouth.” Calloway went on, “That had a big impact on him. Moving forward, when it came to lynching, he wasn’t going to stand for it, to sit by.”
Stradford took his family to Indiana, where he opened a bicycle store as well as another barbershop. In 1899, he earned a law degree from the Indianapolis College of Law, later absorbed by Indiana University. Then, early in the new century, Stradford heard about the black communities springing up in what would become the state of Oklahoma. After Bertie died unexpectedly, Stradford decided to stake his claim in a former Native American trading village on the Arkansas River called Tulsa that had begun to attract oil men and entrepreneurs.
Stradford arrived on March 9, 1905. Eight months later, oil drillers hit the first gusher a few miles from the village. The Glenn Pool Oil Field would be one of the nation’s most bountiful producers of petroleum for years to come.
Tulsa became a boomtown virtually overnight. White Tulsans flush with cash needed carpenters and bricklayers, maids and cooks, gardeners and shoeshine boys. African Americans came south over the railroad tracks to fill those jobs, then took their pay home to Greenwood. An African American professional and entrepreneurial class sprang up, and no black Tulsan prospered more than J.B. Stradford. In little more than a decade, his holdings came to include 15 rental houses and a 16-room apartment building. On June 1, 1918, the Stradford Hotel opened at 301 Greenwood Avenue—three stories of brown brick, 54 guest rooms, plus offices and a drugstore, pool hall, barbershop, banquet hall and restaurant. The hotel was said to be worth $75,000, about $1 million in today’s dollars.
The Dreamland Theater, the city’s first for black audiences, was a busy 750-seat venue that showed silent movies, staged live performances and served as a political hub. It was destroyed in the attack. The Williams family reopened the venue but were forced to sell it during the Great Depression. (Tulsa Historical Society & Museum)
But for all his success and personal happiness—in Tulsa he found love again and married a woman named Augusta—there was some question about whether Stradford would live long enough to enjoy it. He and A.J. Smitherman, the editor of Greenwood’s Tulsa Star , gathered groups of men to face down lynch mobs in surrounding towns. In those days, black people were killed for much less. “It was remarkable he was able to live out his natural life,” Calloway told me. “But, then again, he almost didn’t.”
On the night of May 31, 1921, as the confrontation between the city’s black and white communities drew near, Stradford, rather than march to the courthouse, stayed in Greenwood to be available to provide legal representation to any black residents who might be arrested. His memoir continues:
The mob organized with the agreement that at the sound of whistles from the large factories at five o’clock they were to attack the “Black Belt.” The Boy Scouts accompanied them. They were furnished with a can of kerosene oil and matches. Houses were pillaged and furniture taken away in vans. Then, the fire squad came along to light the fires.
They kept up their plundering, burning and killing until they came within two blocks of my hotel. I can’t say whose plane it was. It came sailing like a huge bird, in the direction of the hotel about two hundred feet above the ground and just before it reached the hotel it swerved and shot bombs through the transoms and plate glass windows.
A dozen people, at least, were in the lobby. One man was shot running out and many others were wounded. All were frightened to hysteria. The men pledged to die with me, if need be, defending the hotel, but the plane episode destroyed their morale. The women, crying and pleading, said, “Let’s get out. Maybe we can save our lives.” They turned in their guns and ammunition, leaving me alone with my wife, who knew me too well. She said, “Papa, I’ll die with you.”
The mob caught one of the patrons and inquired about the number of people in the hotel and if J.B. had an arsenal. The captured patron was sent back with the message that they were officers of the law and came to take me to a place of safety. They guaranteed that my hotel would not be burned, but used for a place of refuge. I opened the door to admit them, and just at that instant, a man was running across a lot southeast of the hotel trying to make his getaway. One of the rioters fell to his knees and placed his revolver against the pillar of the building and shot at him. “You brute,” I yelled. “Don’t shoot that man.”
Just as I was getting in an automobile, the raiding squad arrived on the scene and broke open the drug store and appropriated cigars, tobacco and all the money in the cash register. The perfume they sprinkled over themselves. They filled their shirts with handkerchiefs, fine socks and silk shirts.
I saw lines of people marching with their hands above their heads and being jabbed by the guards with guns if they put their hands down. The guards acted like madmen. Oh! If only you could have seen them jumping up and down uttering words too obscene to be printed, striking and beating their prisoners.
We went out Easton Avenue. On the northwest corner of Elgin and Easton Avenues I owned eight tenement houses. As we passed, flames were leaping mountain high from my houses. In my soul, I cried for vengeance and prayed for the day to come when the wrongs that had been perpetrated against me and my people were punished.
Stradford was interned with his wife and son along with hundreds of others at Tulsa’s Convention Hall. In all, thousands of displaced Greenwood residents were herded into places such as the hall, ballpark and fairgrounds. At the convention hall, Stradford’s son overheard white officials scheming to abduct Stradford. “We will get Stradford tonight,” one of them said. “He’s been here too long. and taught the n------- they were as good as white people. We will give him a necktie party tonight.”
A white friend of the family’s agreed to help them escape. He backed his car to a side door of the convention hall and the Stradfords slipped out. J.B. Stradford crouched down in the backseat, his head in his wife’s lap as the car sped away. By the next day, the couple had made it to Independence, Kansas, where Stradford’s brother and another son were living.
In the aftermath of the massacre, at least 57 African Americans were indicted in connection with it, including Dick Rowland for attempted rape. (None were ever tried or convicted. Tulsa authorities, apparently, had little stomach for revisiting the massacre in court.) Stradford was one of the first to be charged—accused of inciting a riot.
The Tulsa police chief himself showed up at the door of Stradford’s brother in Kansas. The chief did not have an arrest warrant, and J.B. Stradford threatened to shoot the officer if he tried to enter the house. The chief retreated. Sheriff Willard McCullough later got Stradford on the telephone and asked if he would waive extradition, voluntarily turn himself in and face charges in Tulsa.
“Hell, no,” Stradford said, and hung up.
“They were keepers of secrets,” Joi McCondichie says of earlier black Tulsans, including her grandmother Eldoris. (Zora J Murff)
Stradford’s 29-year-old son, C.F. Stradford, had recently graduated from Columbia Law School, and was then in the early stages of what would be a long and distinguished legal career in Chicago. The son, packing a pistol, arrived in Independence and got his father on a train north. By then, J.B. Stradford knew his hotel had been destroyed by fire, his hard work and dreams vaporized.
Tulsa authorities did not pursue Stradford to Chicago. He never returned to the city where he had achieved his greatest successes, nor did he receive any financial compensation for all he had lost. Stradford wasn’t able to recreate a luxury hotel in Chicago, but in his later years he owned a candy store, a barbershop and a pool hall. Descendants say he remained embittered about the Tulsa massacre until his death in 1935, at the age of 74.
His descendants went on to become judges, doctors and lawyers, musicians and artists, entrepreneurs and activists. His granddaughter Jewel Stradford Lafontant, for example, was the first black woman to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School, in 1946, and later became the first woman and first African American to serve as a deputy solicitor general of the United States. Richard Nixon considered nominating her to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her son, John W. Rogers Jr., is an investor, philanthropist and social activist who formed what is the nation’s oldest minority-owned investment company, Chicago-based Ariel Investments.
“I feel for J.B. Stradford, overcoming all these obstacles to build a great business and see that business thriving and then overnight to see it destroyed through pure racism,” Rogers told me last year. “I can’t imagine how devastating that would be. It’s just unimaginable heartache and bitterness that comes from that.”
Stradford’s descendants also never forgot that he had technically died a fugitive, and they were determined to set that right. The fight was led by his great-grandson, a Chicago judge named Cornelius E. Toole, and by Jewel Lafontant. State Representative Don Ross also joined the effort, which resulted in a historic ceremony at the Greenwood Cultural Center in 1996, 75 years after the massacre. About 20 members of Stradford’s family gathered from around the nation to hear Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating read an official pardon. “It was truly a homecoming of sorts,” Erin Toole Williams, Stradford’s great-great-granddaughter, told me. “None of us had ever been to Tulsa, but the welcome was so warm from the members of the Greenwood community, from other descendants of victims.” After the ceremony, officials hosted a reception. “They had enlarged photographs of lynchings and pictures of the ruins of my great-great-grandfather’s hotel,” Toole Williams said. “That just took me down. I just sobbed along with my family. It was all coming full circle, making for a very bittersweet moment.”
Nate Calloway, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, made his first trip to Tulsa in 2019. On a crisp autumn afternoon, he finally stood before the commemorative plaque in the sidewalk at 301 Greenwood Avenue. The place where the Stradford Hotel once stood was a grassy lot between a church and the freeway overpass. “It was very emotional,” Calloway told me. “But you know, when I went there and I saw those plaques, I got very upset. They took away all that property from those people, property that would be worth tens of millions of dollars in today’s wealth, and they replaced it with plaques.”
Recently, Calloway searched through Tulsa property records to find out what happened to Stradford’s land after the massacre. He learned that in November 1921 Stradford sold his burned-out real estate to a white Tulsa property broker for the price of a dollar. According to later court records, the broker had agreed to sell the property and give Stradford the proceeds, but he never had. “It appears he was defrauded,” Calloway told me. “It adds insult to injury.”
Teaching the history of the massacre has been mandatory in Oklahoma’s public schools since 2002, a requirement that grew out of the work of the state commission. Last year, state officials announced that the Oklahoma Department of Education had taken it a step further, developing an in-depth curricular framework to facilitate new approaches to teaching students about the massacre. Amanda Soliván, an official for Tulsa Public Schools, cited the example of an “inquiry driven” approach that has teachers pose questions about the massacre in the classroom—for example, “Has the city of Tulsa made amends for the massacre?”—and challenges students to study primary sources and arrive at their own conclusions. “I don’t need to be lecturing students whose ancestors might have experienced the Tulsa Race Massacre,” Soliván told me. U.S. Senator James Lankford, a Republican, had been one of the new curriculum’s most vocal advocates. “A lot of things need to be done by that 100-year mark,” he said at a press conference announcing the changes. “Because quite frankly, the nation’s going to pause for a moment, and it’s going to ask, ‘What’s happened since then?’”
The new educational approach is one of several initiatives the state, the city, and their private partners are pursuing as part of a broad effort to reckon with the legacy of the massacre and, officials and community members hope, create the conditions for lasting reconciliation. The city of Tulsa is sponsoring economic development projects in North Tulsa, which includes historic Greenwood. The Greenwood Art Project selects artists whose works will be featured as part of the centennial commemoration. But, for many, the most significant major initiative has been the renewal of the search for the graves of murdered massacre victims.
Much of the civic soul-searching is being led by Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, a Republican born and raised in the city. Last year, Bynum told me that he himself hadn’t heard anything about the massacre until a night 20 years ago, at a political forum at a library in North Tulsa. “Someone brought up that there had been a race riot, and that bombs had been dropped on residents from airplanes,” Bynum told me. “I thought that was crazy. There was no way that would have happened in Tulsa and I would not have heard about that before.”
Bynum had reason to be astonished. There was little that happened in Tulsa that his family didn’t know about, going back to 1899, when Bynum’s paternal great-great-grandfather was elected the town’s second mayor. (His maternal grandfather and an uncle have also served as mayors.) “One of the ways I confirmed that it happened was that I went and asked both of my grandfathers about it,” Bynum said. “They both had stories to tell. They weren’t alive when it happened, but their parents had told them about it, so it became clear that it was something talked about within families but never publicly.”
I asked the mayor why he thought nobody spoke about it except privately. “The civic leadership in Tulsa realized what a disgrace this was for the city, and they recognized, frankly, what a challenge it would be for our city moving forward,” he said. “Then you had succeeding generations grow up, and it wasn’t taught in schools, it wasn’t written about in newspapers.”
Even after the state commission brought national attention to the massacre, it didn’t take long for media attention to move on, especially outside of Oklahoma. Then, in the fall of 2019, HBO premiered “Watchmen,” set largely in Tulsa, which used an alternate-history conceit to explore the city’s fraught racial dynamics. The show went on to win 11 Emmys. Nicole Kassell, who directed the pilot episode, which opens with an extended sequence depicting the massacre in haunting realism, told me, “I remember hearing after the pilot aired that there had been at least 500,000 internet hits that night of people researching the massacre of Tulsa, to find out if it was real. I palpably felt that even if the show failed from that moment forward, we had done our job.”
Mayor Bynum, in our conversation, described his own reaction to “Watchmen.” “To see it portrayed in such a realistic way—it filled me with dread,” he said. “But I also am incredibly grateful. There are so many tragedies related to that event, but one of them is that the people who tried to cover this up were successful for so long. To have a show like that raise awareness of it around the world is a great accomplishment. It’s one way we can make sure that the bad guys didn’t win. We can’t bring folks back to life, but we can make sure that those who tried to cover it up were not successful.”
Bynum had announced the year before the show aired that the city would finally reopen the search for the remains of massacre victims. “What I kept coming back to was this thought: ‘That’s what you hear happens in authoritarian regimes in foreign countries,’” he said. “They erase a historical event. They have mass graves.”
The mayor asked Scott Ellsworth to join a team that also included Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck and Phoebe Stubblefield, a forensic anthropologist whose great-aunt lost her home in the massacre. The professionals would also work with citizen monitors that included J. Kavin Ross, a local journalist and the son of former state representative Don Ross, and Brenda Alford, a lifelong Tulsa resident and prominent local descendant of survivors.
Nate Calloway, a descendant of J.B. Stradford, visits the site of the former Stradford Hotel. “I fantasize about squatting on that land and daring them to remove me.” (Zora J Murff) Born into slavery, J.B. Stradford, pictured with his second wife, Augusta, became one of Greenwood’s wealthiest men. (Courtesy blackwallstreet.org)
Alford was already an adult when she learned that her grandparents and great-grandmother had fled from the mob. When they returned to Greenwood, their homes and family businesses—a store that sold shoes and records, a taxi and limousine service, a skating rink and a dance hall—had all been destroyed. When Alford learned about the massacre, cryptic childhood memories began to make sense. “When we would pass by Oaklawn Cemetery, especially when my great-uncles came to town, the comment would always be made, ‘You know, they’re still over there,’” Alford recalled. Of the hundreds of people interviewed by the original state commission, many told stories about rumored mass grave sites handed down across generations. One location that came up over and over again was Oaklawn, the city’s public cemetery.
In July 2020, she and Kavin Ross joined the search team at Oaklawn for the first excavation. It turned up animal bones and household artifacts but no human remains. The search resumed three months later, in late October. The team had historical evidence, including death certificates from 1921, suggesting that massacre victims may have been buried in unmarked graves at another site at Oaklawn. Geophysical surveys had revealed soil anomalies that were consistent with graves. On October 20, an early swipe of a backhoe uncovered human bones. A tarp was quickly thrown up to shield the remains.
“We went into motion very quickly,” Kary Stackelbeck, the state archaeologist, told me later. “But then it occurred to me that the monitors may not have been aware of what was happening. I took Brenda Alford to the side to quietly let her know that we had this discovery. It was that moment of just letting her know that we had remains. It was a very somber moment. We were both tearing up.”
In the coming days, at least 11 more unmarked graves were uncovered, all of them presumably containing the remains of massacre victims. Scott Ellsworth met me for dinner in Tulsa not long afterward. He told me about other possible grave sites yet to be explored and the fieldwork yet to be done. The process of analyzing the remains, possibly linking them to living relatives through DNA, arranging for proper burials, and searching for other sites is likely to go on for years. But in his nearly five decades of devotion to restoring the massacre to history, those autumn days last year at the cemetery were among the most seismic. They were also bittersweet. “I’m thinking of W.D. Williams and George Monroe, all those people I met in the s,” Ellsworth told me. “I wish they could have been here to see this.”
Eldoris McCondichie, who had hidden inside a chicken coop on the morning of June 1, 1921, died in Tulsa on September 10, 2010, two days after she turned 99 years old. I have thought of her often in the years since we sat together in her Tulsa living room, discussing the horrible events of her young life.
Abandoned steps mark Greenwood’s Standpipe Hill area, once home to doctors, teachers and lawyers. (Zora J Murff)
On a sunny day last October, I waited for her granddaughter, L. Joi McCondichie, whom I had never met, at an outdoor café table on Greenwood Avenue, just across from the construction site of the Greenwood Rising history center. She showed up carrying files that documented her own attempts to organize a commemorative walk on June 1 for the 100-year anniversary of the massacre and newspaper stories that celebrated Eldoris’ life. She is a thin woman in her 50s, weakened from a spell of poor health. But where Eldoris was the picture of tranquillity, Joi could be fierce, pounding several times on her seat to emphasize a point during our long interview. In her family, Joi told me, “I was known as little Angela Davis.”
Joi had been born and raised in Tulsa, but moved to Los Angeles as a young woman to work for the federal government. She moved back to Tulsa several years ago with her son to be closer to family. Eldoris was the beloved matriarch. As a young girl, Joi remembered hearing her grandmother talk, but only in passing, about the day she had been forced to hide in a chicken coop. Eldoris never said why or from whom. It wasn’t until one day in 1999, when Joi was living in Los Angeles, that she got a call at work from a receptionist. “She said, ‘Do you know an Eldoris McCondichie?’ So I go to the front desk, and there Grandma is on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.” Joi remembered the headline exactly: “A City’s Buried Shame.” Joi and her toddler son caught the first plane back to Oklahoma.
Eldoris McCondichie was 88 years old when Joi and other similarly agitated grandchildren gathered in the den of her North Tulsa home. That day Eldoris told them, for the first time, about the lines of bedraggled refugees, the planes firing down, the wall of smoke rising from Greenwood.
“She calmed us down, not just me, but the rest of my cousins,” Joi said of her grandmother. “We were frantic and couldn’t understand, but she talked to us so calmly. She was sweet as pie. I said, ‘Why didn’t you tell us all this time, Grandma?’ And she simply looked at me and said, ‘It’s because of you, and it’s because of him.’ She pointed to the fat baby I was holding. It made me so angry—so disheartened and quite sad,” Joi continued. “I said, ‘Grandma, you should be mad. Let’s tear it down. Let’s get Johnnie Cochran in here.’
“She said, ‘I didn’t want you to carry that anger and that hate in your heart.’”
I asked Joi if her grandmother and other survivors felt relief at finally feeling safe enough to tell their stories. “Yeah, they were getting old,” she replied. “It was time. They could safely say they had won the war. They had lost the battle, but they had won the war, you see. These are the things that she told us to calm us down. She said, You can’t fight every battle. You have to win the war.”
Last year, in a report that renewed calls for reparations to be paid to Tulsa’s massacre survivors and their descendants, Human Rights Watch painted a sobering picture of what remains a segregated city. A third of North Tulsa’s 85,000 residents live in poverty, the report found—two and a half times the rate in largely white South Tulsa. Black unemployment is close to two and a half times the white rate. There are also huge disparities between life expectancy and school quality.
“I’m cutting yards today so that my son can get out of Langston University,” Joi McCondichie told me. “They didn’t give us a penny, sir, and now they’re going to make millions a year,” she said, referring to the predicted influx of tourism with the opening of Greenwood Rising.
John W. Rogers Jr., the Chicago investor and great-grandson of J.B. Stradford, spoke about the economic disadvantages that persist in black communities. “What I’ve been interested in is economic justice and in helping to solve the wealth gap in our country,” Rogers said. “I think that’s because I came from this family and from business leaders who understood that it was important for us to be able to vote, and important for us to get education and fair housing, but it was also important for us to have equal economic opportunity.”
It is against that complex backdrop that Tulsa commemorates the worst outbreak of racial violence in U.S. history. What happened in 1921 continues to reverberate in every part of the country. It’s possible to see a direct line from the enduring horror of the Tulsa Race Massacre to the outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
When we spoke last fall, Phil Armstrong, the project director for the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, shared his hopes that Greenwood Rising could become an incubator of sorts for new racial understanding. “The final chamber in Greenwood Rising is called ‘The Journey to Reconciliation,’” Armstrong said. “It’s going to be an amphitheater-style seated room. You’ve seen all this history. Now let’s sit down and have a conversation. It literally will be a room where people can have difficult conversations around race. You can change policies and laws, but until you change someone’s heart and mind, you’re never going to move forward. That’s what Greenwood Rising is all about.”
Editor's Note, March 24, 2021: A previous version of this story said that J.B. Stradford earned a law degree from Indiana University. In fact, he earned a degree from the Indianapolis College of Law, which was later absorbed by Indiana University. The story has been updated to clarify that fact. Additionally, a previous version of this map misspelled the name of T.J. Elliott. We regret the error.
The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921
An account of America’s most horrific racial massacre, told in a compelling and unflinching narrative. The Burning is essential reading as America finally comes to terms with its racial past.