Film shares survivors tales of the Tulsa Race Riots

caines | 4/11/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Deltas bring documentarys producer to Miami Jackson Senior High School For two days in the late spring of 1921, whites attacked the Black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the Citys Greenwood District. The racially-motivated conflict was partially fueled by jealousy because at that time, the Greenwood District, also known as the Black Wall Street, was the wealthiest Black community in the U.S. From May 31 to June 1, whites burned the community to the ground, leaving an estimated 10,000 Blacks homeless, over 1,200 homes destroyed and up to 300 Blacks dead. A reported 800 whites were admitted to white hospitals the Black hospital was burned down. Officially only 39 Black fatalities were reported but many would dispute such low numbers. The question is why such a heinous series of events has been given so little attention in U.S. history books, classrooms or even in private discussions. As the numbers of remaining survivors declined to single digits, and after a report commissioned by the Oklahoma State Legislature recommended compensatory actions be made to the few living survivors and their descendants, real conversations about the Tulsa tragedy began to spread in Black communities throughout the U.S.

Before They Die! recounts the horror

Now the true story told by those who survived that terrible time in history and their quest for justice will be presented in a new documentary, Before They Die!, at Miami Jackson Senior High School [1751 NW 36th Street] on Saturday, April 13th at noon. The screening, sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Dade County Alumnae Chapter, will be followed by a panel discussion with the films producer, Dr. J. Denise Clement. Funds raised through donations and the sale of the DVD after the forum will help support the Tulsa Project organized to assist the living survivors and their families. Clements college roommate at the University of Miami and a fellow Delta soror, Marsha Jackman, says its the kind of event that Blacks and whites alike should attend. She [Clement] went to school together and have remained friends ever since, she said. I knew that she had been working on this documentary for a while and as the sorority approached its centennial, we thought that this was the kind of story our history that needed to be shared here in Miami. Florida and the rest of the country now know about Rosewood, but only a handful of people are aware of what happened to Blacks in Tulsa. For more information contact Maud Newbold, 305-635-8767 or visit www.BeforeTheyDie.org. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com