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OU to Host Symposium Commemorating 100-Year Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre

OU to Host Symposium Commemorating 100-Year Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre

April 02, 2021

The University of Oklahoma will host a three-day symposium to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the deadliest acts of anti-Black violence in American history.

Themed “Reflecting on the Past, Facing the Future,” the symposium will be held April 8-10 and will feature a variety of in-person and virtual events open to the public, including keynote presentations, plenary talks and a premiere performance by the OU School of Dance. All events will be livestreamed to accommodate a larger audience due to COVID-19 capacity limitations and safety protocols.

The symposium caps off a yearlong initiative across the university to educate and to provide the community an opportunity to reflect on the upcoming centennial.

“This year marks the 100-year anniversary of one of the most horrific tragedies in our nation’s history, which regrettably took place in our own state,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “It is our hope that this symposium inspires reflection and meaningful dialogue – critical steps that will help foster an inclusive culture on our campus and in our communities.”

Summary of Symposium Events

For a detailed listing of all symposium events and speakers, visit

Thursday, April 8

The first day of the symposium will begin at noon on Thursday, April 8, with an opening ceremony, followed by three panel discussions featuring a number of authors, scholars, and OU students and faculty. Thursday’s events will be held both in-person at the Thurman J. White Forum Building on the OU Norman campus with capacity limitations in place, and streamed online on OU’s YouTube page.

Friday, April 9

All sessions slated for Friday, April 9, will be held virtually on Zoom. Two-term U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith will present the symposium’s keynote talk, and a panel discussion will cover the theme of memorialization and the Tulsa mass graves investigation. Two plenary talks will be delivered by Scott Ellsworth and Hannibal B. Johnson, both of whom have written extensively on the Tulsa Race Massacre and Tulsa’s Greenwood District. Each session will include an audience Q&A.

Also on Friday, members of the OU School of Dance will perform I Dream of Greenwood – a dance choreographed by Haitian-American artist, producer, writer and lecturer Marie Casimir and OU School of Dance graduate student J’aime Griffith. The dance, inspired by the personal accounts of children who survived the Tulsa Race Massacre, will move through the dreamscapes of those who inherited both the rich legacy of a thriving community and the trauma of one of the worst single acts of racial violence in American history.

Saturday, April 10

Smith will lead off Saturday’s events with a virtual craft talk for writers. The symposium will conclude in Tulsa’s Greenwood District at Fulton Street Books, with authors and artists sharing readings from World Literature Today’s spring 2021 issue, “Redreaming Dreamland,” which reflects on 1921 and African American multicultural vitality in the 21st century. The issue features internationally renowned writers, as well as authors from Oklahoma.

The symposium is hosted by the Office of the President; the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Coordinating Committee.

The OU commemorations of the Tulsa Race Massacre are being coordinated by Drs. Daniel Simon, Karlos Hill and Kalenda Eaton. Activities are financially supported, in part, by a major grant from Oklahoma Humanities, the Norman Arts Council and a Faculty Investment Program grant from the OU Research Council and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

All symposium events are free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Online registration is available by clicking here. For more information or for accommodations, email or call (405) 325-1701.

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit