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Lankford Advocates for Historic Greenwood District National Monument 

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s opening statement on YouTube.

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s opening statement on Rumble.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today addressed his Senate colleagues during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing to urge support for his bill to establish Historic Greenwood District—Black Wall Street National Monument in the state of Oklahoma (S. 3543). Lankford introduced the legislation in December 2023.

Lankford was the first Member of Congress to officially recognize the 1921 Race Massacre on the Senate floor. Lankford then held a community conversation event in North Tulsa’s Big 10 Ballroom, celebrating its grand reopening last year when music returned to the famous jazz venue. Lankford led the Oklahoma Delegation in a resolution to recognize the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Lankford applauded the decision to designate the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park as an official member of the African American Civil Rights Network (AACRN), He celebrated with the North Tulsa community the announcement by the National Park Service designating the Greenwood Historic District of North Tulsa as part of the National Historic Registry.

Remarks (as prepared):

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, thank you for allowing me to testify today in support of S. 3543, a bill to establish the Historic Greenwood District—Black Wall Street National Monument in the State of Oklahoma. 

I’d like to ask unanimous consent to submit a letter of support from the Historic Greenwood District – Black Wall Street National Monument Coalitions into the record. 

At the end of last year, Senator Booker and I introduced this bill to designate the Historic Greenwood District of North Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre took place, as a national monument.

Each year on May 31 and June 1, Oklahoma and the nation pause to reflect on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre that left a community in ruins. Although Greenwood and North Tulsa lost almost everything on those terrible summer days over 100 years ago, the community remains relentlessly devoted to turning tragedy into triumph. They remain a beacon for culture, opportunity, and prosperity. They are committed to the future. 

While the community is committed to the future, we must also remember the past. 

North Tulsa remains a place of light and hope as the community continues to show their strength to overcome adversity and work toward reconciliation, which is something our nation should never forget. I am grateful for the tireless efforts of so many in North Tulsa and in our state to make sure our children today and the generations yet unborn remember those lost, understand the stain of racism, and learn the powerful story of rebuilding and resilience.

There’s great honor to be able to say to people we have not forgotten about what happened. We have not ignored it. We have not swept it under the rug and pretended that it never happened. We remember. 

We must also work to ensure the story and history live on and are never forgotten. That’s why this bill is so important. 

It is critical to note that in addition to hundreds of Black residents being killed, the Greenwood neighborhood was burned and that essentially no substantial structure has survived the tragic event to current times. 

That’s why this bill delineates the historic boundary of the Greenwood Neighborhood as a national monument.

The bill establishes in Tulsa, Oklahoma a National Monument unit of the National Park System to preserve, protect, and interpret for the benefit of present and future generations resources associated with the Historic Greenwood District, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 and the role of each in the history of the State of Oklahoma and the United States.

This designation will serve as a catalyst for the resurgence of this economic and cultural hub in Tulsa while helping the country understand and learn from our shared history. 

With all new things, there are of course are questions. And with an area that has already faced so much hardship, it’s easy to understand why. 

This bill ensures that the Secretary can only acquire land or interest in land through donation, exchange, or purchase from a willing seller. We also wrote in explicit private property protections. 

Additionally, the Commission established under the bill will make recommendations to the Secretary for the location of any signage or potential visitor center. 

The bill includes a narrow waiver of one provision the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which governs the establishment and operation of advisory committees. 

Through the legislation, we can craft language that both honors Greenwood’s past and protects its future. 

It is my hope that we can work to ensure that our children do not grow up in a nation that forgets their past but also makes sure it’s not repeated again, to make sure all individuals are recognized and respected and that every person has the same opportunity. 

I have worked with my friends in North Tulsa for years to secure designations on the National Registry of Historic Places and on the Civil Rights Trail. Now, we are one step closer to establishing a national monument.

The Historic Greenwood District-Black Wall Street area in North Tulsa deserves its place among our nation’s significant historic locations. I look forward to the testimony and urge support for this bill. 

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