On Tulsa, Juneteenth, and (Un)Learning Dishonest History

by Promise54 | Jun 30, 2021

As June comes to a close, we are reflecting on two particularly important moments and the role of education – and of educating – in the work of racial justice. June began with the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre and also marked the declaration – finally – of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, 156 years after the day it commemorates. 

Celebrating Juneteenth and drawing focus to events like the Tulsa Race Massacre is, of course, progress, but we can’t overlook the omissions in an anti-Black education system that these commemorations expose. Too many people have never heard of the violence in Tulsa, are unaware that Tulsa was just one of many race massacres in the United States, and can’t accurately articulate what Juneteenth celebrates. The telling of ‘American’ history has been designed and delivered within the greater system of white supremacy, one committed to erasing Black narratives in service of retaining and expanding its own power. Left unexamined, unchallenged, and uninterrupted, this dishonest history enables the perpetuation of anti-Blackness.

 It is incumbent on each of us to fill gaps created by our own education and make the changes necessary to create a more just and antiracist education system. Developing this deeper understanding of a more accurate history of our country is a critical component of the work we must do to create a more just and equitable society. In that spirit, we’ve curated a set of readings, podcasts, interviews, videos, and visuals below that you can use as a starting point. Try choosing one daily, or branch off with one author or researcher or thinker at a time and commit to unlearning what we’ve been taught – and learning what we haven’t. 

READ: How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith

LISTEN: Black History Year Podcast by Pushblack – Slavemasters in Your Neighborhood with Clint Smith 

LISTEN: Unlocking Us Podcast – Brene with Dr. Clint Smith on How the Word is Passed

LISTEN: NPR’s All Things Considered: In ‘How The Word Is Passed,’ 8 Places Tell The Story Of Slavery In The U.S. with Clint Smith

READ: On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

LISTEN: NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross – ‘On Juneteenth’ Historian Examines The ‘Hope’ And ‘Hostility’ Toward Emancipation

CONNECT: Beyond Tulsa – Other Black Massacres – Tweet from @Common

READ: Washington Post – Tulsa isn’t the only race massacre you were never taught in school. Here are others.

WATCH: The Amber Ruffin Show – Why The 1619 Project Has Republicans Banning “Critical Race Theory” 

MULTIMEDIA: CNN History Refocused – Racial Violence in America: 60 Years of Whitewashing

MULTIMEDIA: BET – Not Just Tulsa: Race Massacres That Devastated Black Communities In Rosewood, Atlanta, and Other American Cities

WATCH: C-Span – Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Testify

WATCH: The Amber Ruffin Show – Beyond Tulsa: The Secret History of Flooding Black Towns to Make Lakes

WATCH: Beyond Resilience Series – Tulsa, Juneteenth & the Path Toward Economic Justice

EXPLORE: BlackPast.org – Remembered & Reclaimed: an online reference center of materials on African American history

WATCH: All Things Considered on NPR – 3 Documentaries You Should Watch About The Tulsa Race Massacre

READ Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino

READ: Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America edited by Ibram X. Kendi & Keisha N. Blain

READ: The Essential Kerner Commission Report by Jelani Cobb





Kiera is: a prideful Southerner, frequent semi-funny joke teller, runner and avid chicken wing connoisseur. She has a love for Black history and oral storytelling and is deeply committed to dismantling systemic inequities by elevating the voices, stories, and perspectives of those in marginalized communities. Kiera’s years in the social sector include roles as: a middle school math teacher in New Orleans, a Teach for America Corps Member, Transportation Policy Fellow through the Urban Leaders Fellowship and Analyst at Education First Consulting. Kiera holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Boston University and a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University.

Contact Kiera: kiera@promise54.org

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