Group offering help for Tulsa Race Riot survivors

Thursday, February 14th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A group of local residents has formed an organization to help survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.

Fai Walker, executive director of the Greenwood Cultural Center, was frustrated that proposals to pay reparations to survivors have bogged down.

The youngest survivors are in their early 80s, while the oldest are nearing the century mark. Walker thought people that age could be helped in other ways.

``While everybody was talking about money, it seemed to me there were things _ quality of life issues _ that don't necessarily cost a lot of money that could be addressed,'' she said.

Walker has been joined by several other people to give those issues some personal attention.

Eddie Faye Gates, an author and member of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, scoured the Tulsa area and found nearly 50 people interested in participating.

Tulsa Senior Services evaluated their needs, and its personnel will meet with Walker soon.

In some cases, respite for family or professional caregivers may be a survivor's primary need. In others it's likely to be nursing or medical care.

The Women of Tomorrow, a youth leadership group at the Greenwood Cultural Center, has volunteered 20 members for the program. Some students at Jackson Elementary School say they want to help. So do a hospice care service and a clinic.

``Since folks have heard about this, we've had quite a few people saying they want to help,'' Walker said.

But Walkers wants volunteers to understand the responsibilities they will face.

``We want people to recognize this is a commitment,'' she said. ``There will be training involved, and we're looking for a long-term commitment. This is not a one-time deal.''

There have been estimates that as many as 300 people were killed during the riot, which broke out after shots were exchanged between a white lynch mob and blacks trying to protect the intended target _ a shoeshiner accused of assaulting a white woman.

Lawmakers approved legislation providing economic considerations for Tulsa's predominantly black neighborhood, located on the near north side, as compensation for the riot.

The Vernon AME Church in north Tulsa is the proposed site of the memorial to the riot.