Hundreds gather at historic Tulsa church's prayer wall

“You can kill the people, but you cannot kill the voice of the blood.”

Although the church was nearly destroyed in the massacre, parishioners continued to gather in the basement, and a few years later it was rebuilt and became a symbol of the resilience of Tulsa’s black community. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

As the ceremony ended, participants placed their hands on the prayer wall on the side of the sanctuary while a soloist sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Traffic was buzzing on a nearby freeway that cuts through the Greenwood District, which was rebuilt after the massacre but slowly deteriorated 50 years later after homes were taken from major domains as part of urban renewal in the 1970s.

The activities to commemorate the massacre on Monday should culminate with a “Remember & Rise” headline at the nearby ONEOK Field, where the Grammy-winning singer Songwriter John Legend and a keynote from Suffrage activist Stacey Abrams. But this event was Scrapped late last week after no agreement could be reached on cash payments to three survivors of the deadly attack, a situation that sparked broader debates about redress for racial injustice.

Disagreements among black leaders in Tulsa over how to handle memorials and multi-million dollar donations have resulted in two different groups planning separate event schedules for the 100th anniversary of the massacre. In addition to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival held a number of separate events over Memorial Day weekend.

In a statement Tweeted on SundayNot specifically addressing the event’s cancellation, Legend said, “The road to restorative justice is crooked and bumpy – and there is room for sane people to argue about the best way to heal the collective trauma of white supremacy . But one thing that is out of the question – a fact that we must hold on to with conviction – is that the road to reconciliation is through truth and accountability. “

President Joe Biden will visit Tulsa on Tuesday.

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