Tom Hanks’ comments about wanting the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre to be taught in schools is catching lots of comments on social media.
In an op-ed for the New York Times published on Friday (June 4), the actor, who describes himself as a “lay historian,” said he did not learn about what happened in Tulsa in high school and at community college in Oakland.
“I never read a page of any school history book about how, in 1921, a mob of white people burned down a place called Black Wall Street, killed as many as 300 of its Black citizens and displaced thousands of Black Americans who lived in Tulsa, Okla.,” he writes.
Hanks notes that too much of Black history, “including the horrors of Tulsa” was “too often left out” because history is “mostly written by white people about white people.”
Hanks goes on to write: “It seems white educators and school administrators (if they even knew of the Tulsa massacre, for some surely did not) omitted the volatile subject for the sake of the status quo, placing white feelings over Black experience — literally Black lives in this case,” then, he follows up about a possible change in perspective if the Tulsa massacre was taught to students as early as the fifth grade. “Today, I find the omission tragic, an opportunity missed, a teachable moment squandered.”
Additionally, the actor shifted the subject of Black history to its portrayal in Hollywood and said the entertainment business did not take on subjects like Black Wall Street until recently with series like Lovecraft Country and Watchmen. He notes that historically-based fiction entertainment “must portray the burden of racism in our nation for the sake of the art form’s claims to verisimilitude and authenticity.”
Tom Hanks’ comments about Tulsa and Black Wall Street have Black Twitter largely applauding him:
Read the full op-ed here.