The Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial commemoration will take place on May 31. Politics is threatening to derail and diminish this time of remembrance. My remarks from six months ago might bring a helpful perspective. I prepared these remarks at the end of October 2020 and delivered them during our Annual Meeting on November 10, 2020, in Broken Arrow. I still believe it is important for Oklahoma Baptists to honestly, humbly reflect on the tragic truth from the history of our State:
“The year 2021 is an important time for Tulsans and for all Oklahomans. In 2021, Oklahoma will commemorate the Race Massacre that took place in the Greenwood District of Tulsa 100 years ago in 1921. Commemoration involves ceremony and official gatherings, activities and expressions; however, the heart of commemoration is remembering.
“Now, we know that we live in a day in which people all across the political spectrum, right to left, will work to leverage this commemoration for their own purposes. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the call to remember is a major theme of the Word of God. The people of God ought to always be a people with a long, accurate, honest memory.
“Why? Why should we work to help one another remember the events of 1921?
“Let brother Stephen answer this question. When Stephen, the preaching deacon, stood condemned before that angry mob, he challenged their collective memory. He started with Abraham and recalled from memory the family tree of his accusers—the patriarchs, Joseph, Moses, the tabernacle years in the wilderness and the glorious temple in Jerusalem. Then, in the midst of that walk down memory lane, Stephen made his point:
“’When you stone me, just as when you murdered Jesus, you are repeating the same stubborn sins of your fathers. Which of the prophets did you not kill?’
“Remember or repeat.
“There are many good reasons to remember the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. I believe that the most important reason why we remember is just this simple. We work to remember, to accurately, honestly remember—the hatred, the chaos, the violence, the injustices, the willful ignorance and passive complicity—because we know that if we are not careful, we are capable of repeating these same dark sins of hatred, racism, and violence.
“False pride depends on a selective memory. Honest reflection feeds humility. Humility is the foundation of right relationship with God and man.
“We should remember so that we do not repeat”
For more information on how Oklahoma Baptists are commemorating the Tulsa Race Massacre and other related resources visit oklahomabaptists.org/1921.