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NSU commemorates 100th anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) — Novelist Rilla Askew will discuss her book “Fire in Beulah” next week as Northeastern State University commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

The virtual event sponsored by the Center for Women’s Studies and the Department of Languages and Literature at NSU will take place at 6 p.m. on April 12 and is free and open to the public.

NSU Associate Professor of English Christopher Murphy said Askew has visited the campus in the past as part of the visiting writers’ program and is a dynamic and insightful speaker.

“I’m really looking forward to talking not only about race and about the depiction of the massacre, which is incredibly powerful, but I’m also looking forward to talking about how race and gender intersect,” Murphy said.

As part of her book Askew tells the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 and the events leading up to it from the perspective of two women, one African American and the other white. Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Women’s Studies Dr. Suzanne Farmer said Askew will discuss her novel and also talk about the race massacre through a gendered lens. Farmer encourages those wanting to know more about the impact of the Tulsa Race Massacre to tune in as when discussing the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 it is important to consider the role that women played in initiating the events as well as to consider the impact on the women who experience the atrocities.  

Following World War I Tulsa was known nationally as the home of an affluent African American community known as the Greenwood District. However, a series of events from May 31 to June 1, 1921 culminated with white rioters destroying nearly the entire community and killing hundreds.

Murphy said while general knowledge about the event is starting to bubble in the public consciousness across the country as many commemorate the 100th anniversary of the incident, he added back in 2001 when the book was first published for some then it was still a little-known aspect of the nation’s history.

Murphy thinks learning about the Tulsa Race Massacre is important, even though it was a tragic and ugly part of the country’s and state’s history, and reading novels, like Askew’s, are one way individuals can deepen their understanding of past events.

Those interested in viewing the discussion can visit either the center’s Facebook page at  facebook.com/nsuokcws or the Department of Languages and Literature Facebook page at facebook.com/nsulandl.