Still Awaiting Funds For Race Riot Memorial

Wednesday, March 19th 2008, 11:28 pm
By: News On 6

In 2001, Oklahoma authorized $5 million toward a Tulsa Race Riot Memorial, but it hasn't provided all the money.  News On 6 anchor Latoya Silmon reports the city says the project can't afford to wait much longer.

The project is short $1.3 million.  It's money the state promised years ago and, without it, the project can't go forward.

"The 1921 Race Riot represented the most devastating civil disturbance in American history during that period of time," said Greenwood Chamber of Commerce's Reuben Gant.

More than 85 years later, the area is still struggling to rebound.  A landscape that was once bustling with more than 200 businesses is now a shadow of its former self with just a few shops lining Greenwood.

"All we need is one victory something to help lift the spirits, to help lift the hope of those who are under served," said Greenwood Chamber of Commerce's Reuben Gant.

Phase 1 of the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, named after a race riot survivor and world renowned scholar, was started after the state backed the proposal in 2001.

But, years later the site sits empty:  three acres of land that were designated for the $5 million project.  The Greenwood Chamber says it's waiting on money from the state but some of that money hasn't arrived yet.

"That's what's really been holding up the ground breaking of the first phase.  To date we've received about $3.6 of a $5 million promise," said Greenwood Chamber of Commerce's Reuben Gant.

Without the rest, the City of Tulsa says its $400,000 investment into the project hangs in the balance.

"The monies that we have in a way are kind of held hostage because we have statues completed, towers completed. We need the additional money for site prep," said Mayor Kathy Taylor.

Mayor Kathy Taylor and the Greenwood Chamber have appealed the state for remaining $1.3 million; a payday both admit is long overdue.

"Dr Franklin is 92 years old and the race riots were the 20s.  It's time to have an appropriate monument, reconciliation, place for discussion and discourse," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

The mayor says she's confident the state legislature will appropriate the funds.  She and the Greenwood Chamber hope to break ground on the site in June.

In the meantime, the sculptures and other artwork for the park have been designed and paid for.  Most of them have been collecting dust in a storage unit waiting for the site prep to begin.

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