Race riot memorial could be named after Duke professor

Saturday, May 17th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A proposed memorial and museum commemorating the Tulsa Race Riot could bear the name of a Duke University professor from the city.

Members of the committee planning the project say they would like the memorial and museum be named after John Hope Franklin, a professor emeritus at Duke University, who is a graduate of Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School and considered to be an authority on black history.

"I spoke with John Hope this week," said committee member Paul Finkelman, a former student of Franklin's. "He would not oppose us using his name, but his first preference would be that if we name it for a member of his family it be his father."

Franklin's father was attorney B.C. Franklin. B.C. Franklin represented many of those who suffered losses as a result of the May 31-June 1, 1921 riot. The rampage destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses.

Finkelman, chairman of a foundation formed to raise money for the memorial and museum, said John Hope Franklin's name would carry greater national weight and help raise money for the project.

National support may be necessary since local support for the project has dwindled after about 400 race riot survivors and descendants filed a lawsuit against the Tulsa Police Department and the state.

Committee members have asked for funding from a countywide bond issue, but aren't sure local officials will support it.

"My sense is that, because of the lawsuit on reparations, it's created a backlash against our project. It's unfair, but it's there," said committee member Steve Turnbo.

Committee members say they will continue with their plans.

"We will get the project done, whether it's on the ballot or not, said Julius Pegues, committee chairman. "We will not be deterred."