John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park Inspires Students
“Perhaps the first thing we need to do as a nation and as individual members of society is confront our past and see it for what it is.” – John Hope Franklin, The Color Line
The John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park recently opened as the culmination of the 2001 Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. The park, located at 415 N. Detroit Avenue (www.jhfcenter.org), not only memorializes the Tulsa Race Riot, but also depicts the substantial role that African Americans played in Oklahoma’s growth and history.
Ed Dwight, a Denver artist, created the 25-foot Tower of Reconciliation that rises from Hope Plaza in addition to the three bronze sculptures representing Hostility, Humiliation and Hope. The tower depicts specific scenes of the struggles of African Americans from Africa to America.
John Hope Franklin was an internationally renowned scholar who graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa. TulsaKids Magazine asked some Booker T. Washington students to write their feelings after viewing the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.
Here is what they said:
I felt like I was taking part in a major historical event for Tulsa. I kept thinking that this was something that would be seen for generations to come, and I was there when it was unveiled. The memorial not only symbolizes reconciliation, it symbolizes almost a sense of closure for much of the racial problems that have existed for so long in Oklahoma.
Sam Bevilacqua, senior
This event was very exciting because now racism has finally been overcome in Tulsa, when it was once considered not to be. I say this due to the fact that we’ve built a park in honor of a most prestigious African-American whose acts have now just been recognized.
Jared Redmond, junior
Every student learns about the race riots and what took place during that period in Tulsa’s history, but we don’t learn near as much as we should and it does not quite have the same effect as it does now. The opening of this park is a huge step forward for Tulsa as it does not attempt to forget about what happened, but rather use the park as a symbol of where Tulsa is now and how it has grown and how everyone has come together.
Jordy Albert, senior
Attending the opening ceremony for the John Hope Franklin Memorial park was a very awesome experience! I was extremely proud to be considered to take part in an event that had such strong historical connections to the City of Tulsa. There was an aura of pride an accomplishment that came with being there, especially as I stood among the many great leaders of Tulsa, past and present. It was a truly memorable experience and is a day I will cherish.