This weekend, President Donald Trump is holding his first rally in months in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
He’d planned to hold it Friday, but that date this year happens to be Juneteenth, an unofficial holiday celebrated by many as the true end of slavery in the United States, and he moved to Saturday after an outcry he was co-opting the date for his own purposes.
Even so, some are still unhappy he is holding a rally in Tulsa at all, given the city’s own dark history with racial matters.
I’m not here to comment on whether it’s appropriate or not for the president to hold a rally in Tulsa. Every one of you already has an opinion on that and I can’t change it in this short column space.
What I’m wondering is how many of us really know about that dark time in Tulsa’s history … and why more of us don’t know more about it.
In 1921, over the course of two days on May 31 and June 1, a white mob descended on the Tulsa neighborhood known as “Black Wall Street,” for being one of the most affluent black neighborhoods in the nation.
Over those two days, the attackers burned and looted the area, killing up to 300 people according to estimates. We don’t know for sure, because no one has ever found where the bodies are buried.
And then, like so often in America after our latest white supremacist outrages, the event was hushed up for years. No one talked about it.
Only in recent years has the Tulsa Massacre started to penetrate the national conversation.
Me, despite having heard inklings of it in the past, I truly discovered its dark history last year when the event was depicted on screen in HBO’s TV series “Watchmen.”
Now, “Watchmen” is an astounding artistic achievement, but it seems wrong I had to find out about a tragedy like this from a superhero story.
But, all too often, we hide these mistakes of our past because we are ashamed. We pretend we simply want to move on when, really, we just don’t want to feel guilt.
It’s why I never heard of Moore’s Ford, despite growing up in Walton County, until after graduating college and returning to Monroe to work for The Tribune.
We need to stop hiding from these truths. Ignoring the past isn’t a way forward, but simply a way down into oblivion rather than unity.
HBO, by the way, is showing the entirely of “Watchmen” for free this weekend on its website in honor of Juneteenth. I highly recommend it as a valuable insight into America’s dark past and the way forward.
Also, there are superheroes. That’s always fun.