Ground Broken At Race Riot Memorial Site

Monday, November 17th 2008, 6:23 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa dignitaries broke ground on Monday on the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.  It's the first phase of a larger race riot memorial site that had been long delayed for lack of money.

"It signifies moving forward on reconciliation on all kinds of issues that have confronted our city for a long time," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

John Hope Franklin Center
The park will be on the north side of the new Drillers Stadium, and will have several sculptures depicting the race riot and the hope for reconciliation.

"It's a fulfillment of a dream, not of something being named for me, but that Tulsa would confront the whole problem of reconciliation and goodwill and would take a turn towards it and I think this represents that," said historian Dr. John Hope Franklin.

Dr. Franklin is a noted historian who lives in North Carolina now, but still calls Tulsa his hometown.  He is 93, but in a strong voice, related stories of his childhood in Tulsa, of dealing with racism then, and now.

"You can achieve a lot by having a healthy outlook without bitterness," said Dr. John Hope Franklin.

Private donors stepped in and filled the funding gap on the million dollar development, after delays because of money promised, but never delivered by the state legislature.

"We don't think the second project will be as difficult because of the tone of the community and of the country because even the president is talking about reconciliation," said Julian Pegues with the center.

Construction on the park begins in January and it should be done by May.  There is no timeline for the rest of the project, which depends on more fundraising.