Stacey Abrams, John Legend to Speak at Nationally Televised Remembrance of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

The "Remember & Rise" event will take place on May 31, the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Stacey Abrams -- John Legend
From left: Stacey Abrams and John Legend. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty; Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

U.S. politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams will deliver the keynote speech for this month's nationally televised event marking the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The "Remember & Rise" event, organized by the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, will take place on May 31 and also feature remarks and a performance by Grammy Award-winning singer John Legend.

"We are excited to hear from Stacey in person and apply her tenacity and dedication to the reconciliation of Greenwood beyond this year," the commission's project director Phil Armstrong told The Tulsa World.

"Her tireless efforts to create equity and access for Black Georgia voters has inspired the entire country to re-envision what inclusive structures, systems and communities should look like," Armstrong added.

The memorial will mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the deadliest events of racist violence in U.S. history.

The two-day, 1921 massacre left hundreds of Black people dead after a violent white mob ransacked Tulsa's booming Greenwood District, known as "Black Wall Street."

Historians estimate the destruction left about 10,000 residents homeless in what had been a prosperous, primarily Black economic hub, according to NPR.

Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Abrams, 47, rose to national prominence during a tight race to become the governor of Georgia in 2018 before she lost amid controversy over voter access.

The first Black woman to run for governor in any state as a major party's nominee, Abrams went on to become a leading voice for voting rights after the election and was credited with helping expand access in Georgia, which ultimately flipping the state blue in the 2020 election for President Joe Biden.

On Wednesday, three of the last living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre testified in front of Congress in a push for justice, as descendants of the victims and civil rights activists have pushed the local and federal government to help redress the violence through recognition and reparations.

"I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home," 107-year-old survivor Viola Fletcher told lawmakers from a House Judiciary Subcommittee during the hearing.

Fletcher was 7 years old when the massacre occurred. She appeared on Capitol Hill alongside her younger brother Hughes Van Ellis, 100, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 105.

"I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams," Fletcher said. "I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot."

The 1921 Tulsa Massacre
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Everett/Shutterstock
The 1921 Tulsa Massacre
The 1921 Tulsa Massacre. Oklahoma Historical Society/Getty

The commission hosting the May 31 event says it will announce more speakers and performers throughout the month.

The event will take place at ONEOK Field in Tulsa and be televised nationwide.

In a press release, Abrams said the 100-year anniversary "compels us to reflect on this tragic history, without which reconciliation is impossible."

"Its reverberations continue across communities today, where too many Black Americans face economic hardship, disproportionate police and gun violence, and assaults on their freedom to vote," Abrams continued.

She added: "I join in the recognition of what Tulsa's Black families endured 100 years ago, knowing that together, we can create a more equitable nation where systemic racism is conquered at last."

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