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Park Marks Milestone In Civil Rights History

 TULSA, OK  -- Hundreds of people from across the nation assembled to dedicate and formally open the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park to the public.

JHF Reconciliation Park celebrates the lifetime achievements and legacy of world-renowned civil rights leader and American historian Dr. John Hope Franklin. The Park also gives voice to the untold story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, one of the most tragic events in the nation's history, and honors the countless African-American victims of that Riot almost 90 years later.

Local children held the ceremonial ribbon, which was cut by dignitaries, including U.S. Representative John Sullivan (R); Julius Pegues, chairman, John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation; John W. Franklin, Dr. Franklin's son; several 1921 Tulsa Riot survivors; Sculptor Ed Dwight; Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett (R); and former mayor Kathy Taylor (D), among other notable formerTulsa mayors and members of the Oklahoma State Legislature. The Park is located in the Historic Greenwood District of Tulsa, where the 1921 Tulsa Riot took place.  

"Nothing pleases me more today than to stand here at the site of the 1921 Tulsa Riot and see so many people of multiple generations, ethnicities, and political, social and economic backgrounds gathered to dedicate this historic park and honor Dr. Franklin.  The park dedication is a call not only to Tulsa, but also to our nation to be a part of a living history as we put aside what divides us and work together with civility to move our cities, states and the country forward.  This call to work together truly embodies Dr. Franklin's life-long message and we are committed to delivering on it," said Mr. Pegues.

Dr. John Hope Franklin was raised in Tulsa and graduated valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High School. Unable to attend the University of Oklahoma because of his race, Franklin left the state for undergraduate studies at Fisk University and earned a M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.  President Bill Clinton awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 1995, the nation's highest civilian honor, and later tapped him to head the Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race. In the fall of 2008, he traveled to Tulsa to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the park to be named in his honor. It was to be his last public appearance before his death in March of 2009.

"My father was a historian who believed we must understand our past in order to make informed decisions about our future," said John W. Franklin. "His hope was for a place devoted to dialogue, learning and reconciliation. This park helps fulfill that hope."  Hope Plaza and The Tower of Reconciliation are the park's two primary art elements, both designed and executed by nationally renowned sculptor, Ed Dwight of Denver, Colorado.

The Reconciliation Cornerstone, which will be a permanent fixture at the park, reads,

"Pioneering historian, world-renowned scholar, brilliant son of Tulsa, whose family survived the horrific race riot of 1921 – JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN forever changed the way that Americans think of themselves and their history. In honor of his courage, honesty, tenacity openness, and indomitable spirit, this RECONCILIATION PARK is dedicated."


STORY TAGS: GENERAL , BLACKS , AFRICAN AMERICAN , LATINO , HISPANIC , MINORITIES , CIVIL RIGHTS , DISCRIMINATION , RACISM , DIVERSITY , RACIAL EQUALITY , BIAS , EQUALITY



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