Maybe you’ve heard of the Tulsa Race Massacre. It was one of the most horrific examples of white supremacist terrorism in the history of the United States and knowledge of the event was actively suppressed for over fifty years. From May 31 to June 1, 1921, the Massacre saw the murder of hundreds of Black residents of the Greenwood neighborhood—a bustling and vibrant community known then as Black Wall Street—and more than one-thousand homes and businesses burned to the ground.
As we approach the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we invite you to revisit a moment in 1999 when the New York Times Magazine published Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Brent Staples' article "Unearthing a Riot," which was the most significant national media coverage of the event at the time. Portraits of survivors made by renowned photojournalist and U-M alumnus Fred Conrad accompanied this important essay. In this program, Staples and Conrad will be joined by U-M professor, best-selling author, and historian Scott Ellsworth, author of newly published book The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice, who will facilitate a conversation that will expand our understanding of what has been involved in making the history of Tulsa more visible and, by extension, illuminating the ever-present reality of racial terror and the resiliency of Black communities in our country.
Also featuring an introduction by Matthew Countryman, chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, and a Q&A facilitated by Jennifer Friess, UMMA associate curator of photography.
This program will be livestreamed on YouTube at 4 p.m. on May 17. No registration required.
Brent Staples, an editorial writer for The New York Times, was awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. He is the author of the memoir Parallel Time and holds a Phd in Psychology from The University of Chicago.
Fred Conrad is a photographer specializing in photojournalism and portraiture. He holds his BFA in Photography from the University of Michigan and has made photographs for prestigious and far reaching news organizations such as Sygma, Time Magazine, Newsweek, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, Ms. Magazine and The New York Times.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Scott Ellsworth has been writing about the Tulsa race massacre for forty-five years. His forthcoming book, The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice, will be published on May 18, 2021. Ellsworth teaches in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan.
The Ground Breaking: an American City and its Search for Justice will be available for sale through the UMMA Shop (please call 734-647-0521), Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, and Blackstone Bookstore in Ypsilanti. It will also be available through the Ann Arbor District Library.
For more information, visit umma.umich.edu/unearthing-tulsa.