R 292
2021 -- H 6386
Enacted 06/03/2021

H O U S E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Representatives Cassar, Shekarchi, Blazejewski, Filippi, Alzate, Felix, Williams, Morales, Batista, and Giraldo

Date Introduced: June 03, 2021

     WHEREAS, In the early 1900s, many Black individuals and families settled throughout
Oklahoma, setting up vibrant communities and dozens of all-Black towns, the most famous and
prosperous of which was in Tulsa’s Greenwood District where individuals sought new
opportunities, freedom, and a chance for a better life; and
     WHEREAS, Segregation and the inaccessibility of resources led members of the Black
community to open a variety of commercial establishments, including rooming houses, grocery
stores, barber shops, beauty salons, restaurants, clothiers, pharmacies, movie theaters, dance halls,
pool halls, confectioneries, jitney services, and professional offices (such as for doctors, lawyers,
dentists, and accountants); and
     WHEREAS, The Greenwood District became a thriving community where Black
business owners, schools, and churches flourished and, by the late 1910s, it was the wealthiest
Black community in the United States; and
     WHEREAS, Churches such as Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church, Mt. Zion
Baptist Church, First Baptist Church North Tulsa, Paradise Baptist Church, Metropolitan Baptist
Church, and others became central to the family life and culture of the Greenwood District; and
     WHEREAS, By 1921, the community was home to thousands of Black residents who
lived and worked in the most prosperous Black community in the United States; and
     WHEREAS, The community earned the name the “Negro Wall Street of America” (later,
simply known as the “Black Wall Street”) from the famed African-American author and educator,
Booker T. Washington; and
     WHEREAS, As the opportunities for Black families grew, the community began to
attract more Black families, business owners, well-educated professionals, and individuals fleeing
racial oppression and discrimination in other States; and
     WHEREAS, An incident occurred on the elevator between Dick Rowland and Sarah
Paige an elevator operator, and she had screamed. The next day after a police investigation, Dick
Rowland was detained at the Tulsa Police Department for questioning before being moved to the
Tulsa Courthouse for additional security; and
     WHEREAS, On May 31, 1921, the Tulsa Tribune released a sensationalist story claiming
that a young Black male had attacked a white girl; and
     WHEREAS, That story and long-simmering tensions in the City led to a large group of
white individuals surrounding the courthouse and demanding that Dick Rowland be released so
that he could be lynched; and
     WHEREAS, A group of Black men traveled to the courthouse to help defend Dick
Rowland from the angry mob; and
     WHEREAS, After a scuffle at the downtown Tulsa courthouse, white rioters pursued
Black men to the Greenwood District and the violence escalated; and
     WHEREAS, Houses and businesses were looted and burned throughout the Greenwood
District and attacks lasted well into the next day before being quelled by the Oklahoma City
National Guard; and
     WHEREAS, In less than 24 hours, 35 city blocks were destroyed by fires and 6,000
African-American individuals were detained; and
     WHEREAS, It has been reported that 300 Black people died during these events, but it is
impossible to know for certain because, as part of the local cover-up of the massacre, the sheriff
banned funerals from taking place; and
     WHEREAS, Some Black people were charged with rioting-related offenses; however,
none of the estimated 1,500 white officials and citizens who participated were prosecuted for
violent criminal acts; and
     WHEREAS, Out of the 23 churches that were located in the Greenwood area prior to the
1921 Massacre, only 13 survived and only three churches were able to be rebuilt after being
destroyed: Paradise Baptist Church, Mount Zion Baptist Church, and Vernon AME Church; and
     WHEREAS, Outside of the massacre area, five churches were able to rebuild after being
destroyed; and
     WHEREAS, The Black citizens in Tulsa began rebuilding the Greenwood District
immediately, with Church services resuming the following Sunday; and
     WHEREAS, One hundred years later, the residents and businesses in the Greenwood
District carry on the legacy of resilience and determination; and
     WHEREAS, Greenwood is home to thousands of individuals and families who make
important contributions to their city and the United States and there are countless minority-owned
businesses in Greenwood that drive the local economy; and
     WHEREAS, There is still much work to be done to heal the community and ensure all
people in Greenwood have the promise of a brighter tomorrow; and
     WHEREAS, Greenwood is a community still scarred by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre,
but not defined by it; now, therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island hereby
commends the important work of groups such as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial
Commission, the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, and others who work tirelessly to
ensure the story of the Greenwood District is accurately told and remembered; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That this House hereby believes that while significant progress has been
made in the 100 years since the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, there is still work to be done towards
racial reconciliation, which can only be accomplished through open, respectful, and frank
dialogue; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That this House hereby encourages families of all races to invite families of
different races to their homes to have discussions on race, with parents setting examples for their
children on how to engage in a conversation that will build better understanding of, and respect
for, people of different races; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That this House hereby urges all the people of Rhode Island and the United
States to continue seeking greater understanding, dialogue, and closer connections to people of
different races; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby is authorized and directed to
transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial
Commission, the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, the Honorable Joseph Biden,
President of the United States, and the Honorable Daniel McKee, Governor of the State of Rhode