Lankford, Community Celebrate Designation of Greenwood Historic District

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK– Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today celebrated the announcement by the National Park Service designating the Greenwood Historic District as part of the National Historic Registry. The Greenwood Historic District, also known as “Black Wall Street,” sits in the northern part of Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Greenwood was decimated. Today, Tulsans are working to turn tragedy to triumph by continuing to rebuild the Historic Greenwood District.

“Finally! After multiple decades of working to classify the Greenwood Historic District on the National Historic Registry, it is finally done,” said Lankford. “This is tremendous for the Greenwood community, great for tourism and a blessing for Oklahoma. It has been my honor to work alongside the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation and the Oklahoma Historical Society since my first day as a Senator to get this across the finish line. As is most things from the federal government, this has been too complicated and has taken too long, but perseverance paid off. I am grateful for the years of partnership with so many friends in North Tulsa, such as the late Julius Pagues, who sadly did not live to see this project complete. He never stopped working and believing for this day. The Greenwood Historic District designation honors the past of Greenwood and it invites every American to come and see the bold future of this strong community where residents focus on economic development, committed families, strengthening education, and building on the legacy of Black Wall Street. We have not forgotten the pain and loss of the 1921 Race Massacre, but we are also committed to turning tragedy into triumph.” 

“The acceptance by the National Park Service of the Greenwood Historic District into the National Register of Historic Places is an important milestone for Oklahoma and the nation. Once the most prosperous Black community in the nation, Greenwood was destroyed in 1921 by an angry white mob in one of the nation’s worst acts of racial violence,” said Trait Thompson, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. “The citizens of Greenwood rebuilt their community afterwards only to see it decline again due to urban renewal and construction of an interstate highway in the 1960s. Today, Greenwood is enjoying its third renaissance and the National Register placement will help civic and community leaders in Tulsa continue to tell this important story to a national and international audience. I’m thankful to our incredible staff at the State Historic Preservation Office who worked so hard to help this designation become a reality.”

“The Greenwood Historic District’s historical significance and legacy of perseverance will be forever woven into the fabric of America’s history,” said Reuben Gant, Executive Director of the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. “The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation appreciates the collective, collaborative efforts and commitments to this arduous fifteen-year process. We celebrate this nomination with the worth and dignity of all the families and their descendants.”

Lankford was the first Member of Congress to officially recognize the 1921 Race Massacre on the Senate floor. In May 2016 to recognize the Massacre’s 95th anniversary. Lankford also attended events during the 100th anniversary and led the Oklahoma Delegation in a resolution to recognize the anniversary