On the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Tom Hanks is encouraging people to educate themselves on the dark event that he says is commonly ignored and “too often left out” of American history.
In 1921, a white mob burned Tulsa, Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street” to the ground, killing an estimated 300 Black Americans, wounding 800 more and forcing thousands from their homes. The Oklahoma Historical Society refers to it as “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.”
Hanks, who considers himself a “lay historian” through his education, personal research and work in “historically based entertainment,” said he “never read a page of any school history book” on the massacre.
That changed nearly a century later when the prolific actor came across a 2020 New York Times article following the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“My experience was common: History was mostly written by white people about white people like me, while the history of Black people — including the horrors of Tulsa — was too often left out,” Hanks, 64, wrote in a guest essay for the Times Friday. “Until relatively recently, the entertainment industry, which helps shape what is history and what is forgotten, did the same. That includes projects of mine.”
Hanks believes “the truth about Tulsa, and the repeated violence by some white Americans against Black Americans, was systematically ignored, perhaps because it was regarded as too honest, too painful a lesson for our young white ears.”
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SOURCE: USA Today, Cydney Henderson