The Survivors

Don Thompson has been capturing archival photos of the Greenwood Community for over 40 years. His art is his healing activism. This series of photos visually tells the story of people who were actual survivors of the 1921 Massacre with short descriptions of their experiences.

By The Greenwood Art Project

George Monroe

George Monroe (1995) by Don ThompsonThe Greenwood Art Project

Remembering

George Monroe remembers hiding under the bed with his two sisters on the day four white men broke into his home.

He remembers, "One of them stepped on my finger as they set fire to the house" I started to scream, my sister put her hand over my mouth."

"I guess she saved our lives."

George Monroe, Don Thompson, 1995, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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Mabel B. Little

Coming to Tulsa at the age of thirteen, she worked at the Brady Hotel for $20.00 a month. Mabel Little opened a beauty shop in 1917 and later opened a larger shop in 1921. Four days after opening it was burned to the ground during the Tulsa holocaust.

Mable B. Little, Don Thompson, 1995, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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Mable B. Little, Don Thompson, 1995, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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A daughter of Greenwood, Mabel B. Little is a symbol of the sacred, soft, and dignified legacy of a community that is an impenetrable force. 

Mabel B. Little was resilient and determined. After the 1921 Massacre, she rebuilt her business. In her later years, she became one of Tulsa's most outspoken civil rights activists. She lived to be 103 years old and was in constant service to her community.

Rosa Davis Skinner

Rosa Davis Skinner (1995) by Don ThompsonThe Greenwood Art Project

Rosa Davis Skinner

Rosa Skinner came to Oklahoma with her family in 1900 seeking a better life. His father recalls wanting to relocate to a city where there were churches and schools for his children.

The desire for education and spirituality turned into holocaust and destruction during the 1921 Massacre.

She remembers seeing a baby in a shoebox being buried. People were rounded up and detained by the Oklahoma National Guard in detention centers.

"It was such a terrible time, I will never forget it." - Rosa Davis Skinner

Rosa Davis Skinner, Don Thompson, 1995, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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The desire for education and spirituality turned into holocaust and destruction during the 1921 Massacre.

Augusta Mann

Augusta Mann (1995) by Don ThompsonThe Greenwood Art Project

Augusta Mann

Mrs. Augusta Mann and her husband O.B. Mann operated Mann's Grocery Store on Langston Avenue. In this image, she shares the most amazing story about her husband and the justice he deserved.

"in the best interest of justice"

Her husband and 54 other African Americans were accused by a Tulsa grand jury of instigating the holocaust.

On December 11, 2007, a hearing was held at Greenwood Cultural Center. Eighty-six years after the massacre the District Attorney of Tulsa dismissed the charges against Mann and others.

 On that day the District Attorney said, "All charges are being dismissed in the best interest of justice."

Augusta Mann, Don Thompson, 1995, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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On December 11, 2007 a hearing was held at Greenwood Cultural Center. 86 years later the District Attorney of Tulsa dismissed the charges against Mann and others. On that day the District Attorney said, "All charges are being dismissed in the best interest of justice.”

Alice Andrew

She is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. She sits in this photo with the dignity of a woman who didn't experience the horror of the 1921 Massacre. She did experience it and she is royally dignified.

Alice Andrew (1995) by Don ThompsonThe Greenwood Art Project

Alice Andrew

Alice was a survivor who face the massacre with her own eyes as a city she helped to nurture turned its back on her. 

It is all in her eyes.

Lavern Davis (1995) by Don ThompsonThe Greenwood Art Project

Lavern Davis

Lavern was fourteen years old at the time of the holocaust. With vivid depiction she recalls the hour and destruction of the massacre with sorrow and hurt. Following the massacre she was one of the Greenwood citizens who rebuilt the community with hope and fortitude.

Dr. John Hope Franklin

Buck Franklin is best known for defending African-American survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. Franklin is best known for his literary work From Slavery to Freedom. It was first published in 1947 and continually updated. More than three million copies have been sold.

Dr. John Hope Franklin (1995) by Don ThompsonThe Greenwood Art Project

John Hope Franklin

Dr. John Hope Franklin was an Oklahoman who followed the charge of his father B.C. Franklin to ensure justice for people of color around the state, country, and world. Franklin's father Buck Colbert Franklin was a civil rights lawyer aka "Amazing Buck Franklin."

Buck Franklin is best known for defending African-American survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, in which whites had attacked many blacks and buildings, and burned and destroyed the Greenwood District.

Dr. John Hope Franklin, Don Thompson, 1995, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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In 1995 Dr. John Hope Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. This is an award he received in honor of his father whose footsteps he followed in.

Dr. John Hope Franklin, Don Thompson, 1995, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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The essence of a person is not lost in death but found in the legacy they leave behind. These amazing survivors are all deceased now but will forever live in the present tense. We are today still learning what it means to be human from them. Their legacy is an impenetrable force that survived a massacre and will never die.

Credits: Story

Photographs by Don Thompson
Curated and Writing by Marlon F. Hall

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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