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Reflecting on the Past, Facing the Future

OU’s Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Symposium

Keynote Speaker

Poet, librettist, and translator Tracy K. Smith served two terms as Poet Laureate of the United States and is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, where she also chairs the Lewis Center for the Arts. The author of four books of poems, she received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. In October, Graywolf Press will publish Such Color: New and Selected Poems.

Tracy K. Smith portrait

Plenary Speakers

Born and raised in Tulsa, Scott Ellsworth has been writing about the Tulsa Race Massacre for forty-five years. His first book, Death in a Promised Land, was the first-ever comprehensive history of the massacre. In the 1990s he initiated the search for the unmarked graves of massacre victims and currently serves as chair of the Physical Investigation Committee for the City of Tulsa’s 1921 Graves Investigation. His forthcoming book, The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice, will be published on May 18, 2021.

headshot of Scott Ellsworth

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Hannibal B. Johnson is an attorney, author, and consultant. His consulting work centers primarily on diversity, equity, and inclusion/cultural competence and nonprofit management and governance. Johnson has taught at the University of Tulsa College of Law, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of several books, including Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples with Its Historical Racial Trauma; Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District; and Images of America: Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District.

Hannibal B. Johnson portrait

Welcome Ceremony Special Guests

Joseph Harroz, Jr. was named the 15th president of the University of Oklahoma on May 9, 2020. He has served the university for nearly 25 years in various leadership roles, serving most recently as OU’s interim president and as dean of the College of Law. As president of OU, Harroz carried through on the development of a comprehensive strategic plan for OU’s future – a collaborative process that began early in his interim presidency. The strategic plan aims to position OU as a top-tier public research university that fosters a culture of inclusivity, innovation, and excellence. 

Joe Harroz Jr. portrait

Vice President Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, Ed.D., joined the Office of Diversity, Equity, and inclusion in January 2020 with more than two decades of experience in higher education and several certifications related to the implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies in higher education. She completed her undergraduate work at Southwest Missouri State University and earned a master’s degree in counseling education and one in human resources from Western Illinois University. She earned a doctoral degree in education from Concordia University with a specialization in professional leadership, inquiry, and transformation. Throughout her career, she has published extensively on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Belinda Higgs Hyppolite portrait

Caroline Lowery serves as executive director of Oklahoma Humanities, the state’s affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lowery’s work focuses on the intersection of the academic and public humanities and improving and increasing accessibility to the humanities statewide. Lowery received her BA in humanities from the University of Central Oklahoma and her MA from the University of Oklahoma with research focusing on qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the public humanities in American life. Prior to serving as executive director, Lowery was a program officer with Oklahoma Humanities from 2012 to 2016. As a lifelong advocate for liberal arts education and equitable education opportunities for all Oklahomans, Lowery serves on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Council for History Education, the advisory board for the University of Central Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts, and the board of directors for the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition.

Caroline Lowrey portrait

Additional Scholars, Artists, and Activists

Rilla Askew is the author of four novels, a book of stories, and a collection of creative nonfiction, Most American: Notes from a Wounded Place. She received a 2009 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and teaches at the University of Oklahoma. Her novel about the Tulsa Race Massacre, Fire in Beulah, received the American Book Award in 2002.

Rilla Askew portrait

Crystal Z Campbell is a writer, multidisciplinary artist, and experimental filmmaker of African American, Filipino, and Chinese descents who hails from Oklahoma. Campbell’s hybrid essays and poems have been published in Hyperallergic, GARAGE, Monday Journal, and World Literature Today. Campbell is currently a Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center Fellow (2020–2021).

Crystal Z Campbell portrait

Marie Casimir is a Haitian American performer, writer, producer, and lecturer of African and African diaspora dance in the Clara Luper Department of African & African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She is the founder and director of Djaspora Productions, supporting and producing art that connects artists of color locally and globally. She is a co-founder and producer of the Instigation Festival, a dance and music festival in Chicago and New Orleans. A 2018 Ragdale Artists Fellow and recipient of a OneLove Nola Residency, she has served as an arts and culture consultant for the Consulate of Haiti in Chicago and associate director of Links Hall in Chicago. She choreographed Women Like Us, based on the work of Edwidge Danticat, for the 2018 Neustadt Festival at OU.

Marie Casimir portrait

Ebony Iman Dallas is a fifth-generation Oklahoman, second-generation Somali American. She is an artist, writer, and founder of Afrikanation Artists Organization (AAO). Ebony received her BA in journalism, advertising, and arts from the University of Central Oklahoma and her MFA design degree from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. The Afrikanation Artists Organization, a nonprofit NGO based in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and a 501(c)3 in the United States, aims to unify African Americans, the Afro-Caribbean, and continental Africans through art and design for community activism. Ebony’s work has exhibited extensively in the United States and Somaliland, Somalia, in group and solo exhibitions. Her work can be found at the Hargeisa Cultural Center, Joyce Gordon Gallery, and private collections in Namibia, Somaliland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ebony is a proud graduate of the Oklahoma Arts Council’s Leadership Arts program and ArtistINC.

Ebony Iman Dallas

Kalenda Eaton is an associate professor in the Clara Luper Department of African & African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Her scholarship focuses on Black women’s narratives, the American West, and historical fiction. Eaton is a Fulbright Scholar and has received funding from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council to support her research.

Kalenda Eaton portrait

J’aime Griffith is currently a grad student at the University of Oklahoma studying modern dance. She studied at the Ailey School and began her professional career with Samba/Salsa Entertainment, Awaken Dance Theatre, and Atmosphere. For the OU School of Dance, she choreographed and designed/constructed costumes for Am I There Yet (Young Choreographers Showcase, 2020) and performed Ashes, Ashes, choreographed by Austin Hartel (Contemporary Dance Oklahoma, 2020). Her most recent freelance projects consist of choreographing and dancing Alpha and Omega (a dance film in collaboration with the OU Gospel Choir, creative media production students, and dance and nondance majors); choreographing, dancing, and designing costumes for Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around and Theme for Malcolm; and teaching modern dance at Freedom Dance Studio in Oklahoma City.

Kaime Griffith portrait

Karlos K. Hill is an associate professor and chair of the Clara Luper Department of African & African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His books include Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory (2016), The Murder of Emmett Till (2020), and The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History (2021). He also serves on the steering committee of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.

Karlos K. Hill portrait

Leslie Kraus, assistant professor of dance (modern dance) at the University of Oklahoma, is a performer, choreographer, and educator based between NYC, Seattle, and Norman. From 2004 to 2013 Leslie was a principal dancer and soloist for the Kate Weare Company. She danced in over ten of Kate’s creations and held the position of assistant director, touring, restaging, and teaching company repertoire across the country. In 2012 she joined the immersive theatre company Punchdrunk. Leslie holds an MFA in dance from the University of Washington, a BFA in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is also a trained yoga teacher. She co-choreographed a dance for WLT’s 2019 Neustadt Festival based on the poetry of Margarita Engle.

Leslie Kraus portrait

The author of twenty books of poetry, nonfiction, and children’s literature, Quraysh Ali Lansana is currently a Tulsa Artist Fellow as well as writer in residence, adjunct professor, and acting director of the Center for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation at Oklahoma State University–Tulsa. He is executive producer of KOSU radio’s Focus: Black Oklahoma, and his forthcoming titles include Those Who Stayed: Life in 1921 Tulsa after the Massacre. He is a member of Tri-City Collective.

Quraysh Ali Lansna portrait

Brenda Nails-Alford is a lifelong Tulsan who graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and the University of Tulsa. Brenda has been employed with the State of Oklahoma’s Department of Labor and currently works with CareerTech of Oklahoma. She is the proud granddaughter of 1921 Race Massacre survivors and Black Wall Street entrepreneurs. Brenda serves on the 1921 Race Massacre Commission, Tulsa Race Massacre Commemorative Grant Program Committee, Greenwood Heritage Citizens Advisory Committee, and chairs the Public Oversight Committee of the mass graves investigation. She is honored to serve in these capacities to raise awareness of the history of Greenwood’s Black Wall Street and bring some sense of justice and healing to a community that suffered greatly.

Brenda Nails Alford portrait

A poet, translator, and essayist, Daniel Simon is assistant director and editor in chief of World Literature Today at the University of Oklahoma, where he also teaches for the Department of English. His verse collections include Cast Off (2015) and After Reading Everything (2016), and he won a Nebraska Book Award for Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867–2017, which he edited. His latest anthology project, Dispatches from the Republic of Letters: 50 Years of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, was published in 2020. His poems have been translated into five languages and received multiple award nominations.

Daniel Simon portrait

Phoebe R. Stubblefield is a research assistant scientist at the University of Florida’s C. A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory and serves as the forensic anthropologist for the Physical Investigation Committee of the City of Tulsa’s 1921 Graves Investigation. Her research interests include forensic anthropology, human skeletal variation, human identification, and paleopathology. Previously an associate professor at the University of North Dakota, for twelve years she directed its Forensic Science Program, created a trace evidence teaching laboratory, and assisted undergraduates with entry into the spectrum of forensic science careers. Among her other honors, she received the 2003 Ellis R. Kerley Foundation Award from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Phoebe R. Stubblefield portrait

Janet Ward, Brammer Presidential Professor of History, is senior associate vice president for research and partnerships at the University of Oklahoma. A scholar of urban studies, memory, and European cultural history, Janet currently serves as president of the German Studies Association. She is completing a book, Sites of Holocaust Memory, and has authored two other monographs, Post-Wall Berlin: Borders, Space and Identity (2011) and Weimar Surfaces: Urban Visual Culture in 1920s Germany (2001). She is co-editor of four additional books, with a fifth underway on “Fascism in America,” as well as journal special issues on the Oklahoma City bombing and on confronting racial hatred.

Janet Ward portrait

Student Participants

Joy Belle Douglas is a dual major in Women’s and Gender Studies and African and African American Studies. She is active in community health partnerships and has been involved in major initiatives on campus that support women’s issues.

Joy Belle Douglas portrait

Bailey Fortenbaugh is a junior in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication from Lawton, Oklahoma. She is studying advertising with a minor in communications. Aside from graphic design and campaign projects, Bailey enjoys aviation and learning useless facts for trivia.

Bailey Fortenbaugh portrait

Jordan Johnson majors in history with a minor in African and African American Studies. He is seeking to go to law school after senior year. From a small town in Oklahoma, he hopes his life experiences can help him mold the future.

Jordan Johnson portrait

Ellie LaGere is an advertising senior in OU’s Gaylord College. She specializes in visual storytelling through art and film. She grew up in Tulsa, so the Greenwood story is especially important to her. “It is hard to believe I was able to walk these streets without learning about the massacre that had once occurred, and I think it is an honor to create something for of the initiative to change that.”

Ellie LaGere portrait

Jamelia Reed is a senior majoring in African and African American Studies. Jamelia is a well-known community activist and has been instrumental in movements for positive change at the University of Oklahoma.

Jamelia Reed portrait

Anthony Sanders is a junior at OU studying advertising with a minor in Spanish. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, he holds a deep connection to the state of Oklahoma’s past and the way it is portrayed through education and in media. He loves writing, creating, and consuming all kinds of art and believes we as a society are much better off with creative outlets, especially when we use them to bring attention to paramount issues.


With additional participation by the StratComm students of Professors Ray Claxton and Thomas Patten: Megan Kee, Abraham Mendieta, Cole Taubel; Alee Strong, Stinson Fuller, Leeanne Wilson; Lindsay Garner, Carter Owens, Luke Eisel; Mason Board, Sarah Reitmeier, and Michael Williams.

Anthony Sanders portrait

This program is funded in part by the Norman Arts Council, Oklahoma Humanities (OH), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), with additional major funding from the University of Oklahoma’s Vice President for Research and Partnerships. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of its sponsors. For a complete list of sponsors, click here.

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