Unearthing Forgotten Black Cemeteries in Sharswood and Tulsa: A HistoryMakers Full Episode – Video

Unearthing Forgotten Black Cemeteries in Sharswood and Tulsa: A HistoryMakers Full Episode – Video

The video titled Sharswood; Exhuming paved over Black cemeteries; Tulsa race massacre; HistoryMakers | Full Episodes is a gripping documentary. It follows the story of Fred Miller, an Air Force veteran, who purchases an old White house called Charwood in his Virginia hometown with the hope of using it for family gatherings. However, as he begins to uncover the history of the house, and the land it sits on, he discovers that it was once a plantation and the seat of a major 1300-acre plantation during the 1800s.

As Fred delves deeper into the history of Charwood, he is confronted with the realities of the region’s past, including the presence of slavery in the area. The documentary follows Fred’s journey as he uncovers his family’s connection to the land and the challenges faced by African Americans in tracing their origins due to the scarcity of historical records.

The documentary also sheds light on the experiences of other members of the Miller family, as they come to terms with their family history and the legacy of slavery. It highlights the reluctance of previous generations to speak about the brutal realities of slavery, and the impact it had on subsequent generations.

Ultimately, the video offers a poignant exploration of history, family, and the enduring legacy of slavery in America, as seen through the experiences of the Miller family.

Watch the video by 60 Minutes

Video Transcript

Just off the side of the road sat a grand White House called Charwood silently holding Secrets From the Past waiting for a new owner to uncover them sounds like the opening line of a southern gothic novel but as we first reported in May of last year this story

Is about a real family and a real house this country’s history and a man who found himself at the center of far more than he had bargained for the man is Fred Miller a 57-year-old Air Force veteran who was looking to buy property in his Virginia Hometown for his large

Extended family’s frequent getto togethers he had never heard the name Charwood and yet This Old House would lead him on a journey of dis Discovery with surprises and Revelations that seem both impossible and inevitable all at once these are the gentle Hills of Pennsylvania County Virginia quiet rural

Farm country near the North Carolina border that once produced more tobacco than any county in the state hey we’re going to gather up in this here mainly Fred Miller grew up here in a close family that likes getting together regularly for birthdays fish fries and as his cousin Adam Miller told us just

About anything you play games and do like a lot of food competitions I hear the food is mainly cake yeah yes too many cakes Fred’s cousin Tanya Miller Pope and his sister Deborah Kohl’s told us it’s a big family Fred’s mother Betty and his Aunt Brenda

Were two of 11 how how many cousins oh at least 100 so no wonder Fred needed to find place exactly Fred lives in California where he works as a civil engineer for the Air Force but he visits the family in Virginia often one day out

Of the blue my sister called me told me about a big house up the road for sale this sister right here yeah Karen Dixon rexroth Fred’s baby sister had spotted it me and my mom was riding past the house and I saw the first sale sign I

Said oh my goodness we have to get this house I call Fred Fred this house is for sale he’s like what house I said you know the house the the scary house I call it the scary house was less than a mile up the road from their mom’s they’

Passed it every day as kids on their way to school what did you know about Charwood absolutely nothing nothing just knew it was a the house a big house he was debating should we put in a bid for it I said yes absolutely let’s do it did

She twist your arm took all the twisting she could do I I I I didn’t want to buy it but thinking his bid would be rejected anyway he made an offer of just above the $220,000 asking price why did you think they weren’t going to accept the offer

Well I mean I’m not initially to me I thought it because I was black that they would never surely they would never sell this house to someone that’s black so for us to be able to own this thing I thought it would never happen in a million years so guess what happened a

Million years a million years yes yes absolutely we used to always see this house out here so in May of 2020 Fred Miller purchased the fully furnished house plus 10 and2 acres of land from a family called the Thompson who had owned it since 19 17 the first time I drove up

To the place all I can do is stop at the edge of the road there and just look up amazement like wow this is this is mine this is an original room from the 1800s Karen says she got obsessed with the house spending nights and weekends online researching its Secrets hiding

Spot they say was from the Civil War so they would hide the valuables secret hiding secret hiding she discovered the house had been built around 1850 in the Gothic Revival Style by a well-known New York architect and she learned and told her family that its name had been Charwood every day she was

Calling me with new information I’m like my goodness okay relax are you exaggerating I’m not exaggerating but then Karen turned up something that stunned her in the 1800s Charwood had been the seat of a major 1300 acre Plantation one of the larger ones in the county what did you think of

You owning a plantation I was a little bit a little shocked by that I would say because I just wanted somewhere to have family gathering when I found out that it was a plantation and then I’m like okay Fred just bought a plantation I was like

We what we going do so it was just um a feeling of just um power it was just a powerful feeling it is powerful but of course Plantation implies slavery and before the Civil War Pennsylvania County held more than 14,000 enslaved people the state of Virginia just under

500,000 I said do you realize what this is they didn’t have a clue Dexter Miller one of Fred and Karen’s many second cousins knew something about Charwood because years ago he’d been co-workers with Bill Thompson whose family then owned it Bill joined us for a conversation on what used to be his

Childhood porch you grew up in this house I did this was my home he inherited much of the farmland and still lives up the road his sister inherited the house and sold it to Fred you know when Fred was buying the house he did not think that the house would be sold

To a black person why would you thank that for you um probably because you know it’s we are in R Virginia right well this is true for years Dexter and another second cousin Sonia wack Miranda had been trying to piece together the Miller family’s Origins a notoriously difficult task for

African-Americans because records are hard to come by especially before 1865 it really was a hobby it was addicted it was addicted it really was Private Eyes yes and the land records they’ve been able to trace the whole Miller Clan back to one woman it’s Dexter’s great grandmother it’s my great

Great grandmother Sarah Sarah Miller yes they had found a picture of Sarah Miller this is Sarah right here this is and they gotten hold of her death certificate which showed that she’d been born in Pennsylvania county in 1868 just 3 years after the end of the

Civil War and they found an even better resource one of their oldest living relatives a beloved former school teacher named Maran Keys Miss Keys as everyone here calls her recently turned 90 Sarah Miller is the matriarch of the family yes she was did you know her yes

I did well tell us about her she would always be out there with a broomer in her hand and and she would be waiting for us Maran Keys remembers her great grandmother Sarah as a forced to be reckoned with what she wanted you to know you were going to know it was she

Per sniky as they say difficult Stern very very she didn’t she didn’t play she didn’t play but we loved her but that’s where Miss Key’s knowledge of Miller family history ended she didn’t know anything about the generations before emancipation when you were growing up what did you learn or hear from your

Parents about slavery nothing nothing nothing they did not talk about it I don’t know whether they were afraid whether it was too miserable or painful or they wanted to forget it I don’t know but they did not talk to us about it at all and we didn’t ask them questions

About it why not we were afraid to we heard that again and again from members of the Miller family slavery wasn’t mentioned at all was there almost a code we don’t talk about slavery so nobody did it was something uh that every black person knew you didn’t talk about the parents

Was tell you not to discuss grown people business that’s what they’ll tell you the first time slavery was discussed was uh I guess in the 70s when Roots came the movie Roots came about that’s the first time when Roots was on television did you read about it in

School not much his family also remembers Roots as pivotal yes I think felt like that was an eye opener but even after Roots you didn’t go and say what about our family no even at all what held you back I just didn’t think they wanted to talk about it but didn’t

You want to know I would love to have known known I would love to have known Fred’s purchase of Charwood was about to give him a crash course in his home Town’s slavery routes it started with a call from two archaeologists who wanted to come do research we’re historic

Preservationists and so you know we start from the idea that these places matter Dennis po once worked at Mount Vernon Doug Sanford at monachello they asked if they could come explor or Charwood but they weren’t interested in the ornate house designed by that famous architect what they cared

About was the dilapidated building with the tin roof past the Big Oak Tree behind it they suspected it had once been slave quarters there were once hundreds of thousands of these buildings these were one of the most common types of architecture in Virginia let me give you the running Dimensions but now these

Buildings are r r with fewer than 1500 believed to be still standing and pogan Sanford started a project to search for them so 1 2 3 four Fred and Karen invited them to come investigate they examined measured and searched for Clues you can see the sighting is they showed

Us some of what they found these are the kind of nails that we expect to see on buildings before 1800 handmade rot Nails handmade you can actually see the hammer Strokes on the head is this the original sighting these are remnants of the original sighting absolutely okay they

Worked from noon to dusk and finally gave Karen and Fred their conclusion it’s got a complex history but we think part of that history a big part of that history was it was a a quarter for enslaved folks and then cre they say it’s one of the best preserve they’ve

Seen they believe it was originally built in the late 1700s as a house for a white family that’s where the original door was and was later divided into two separate single room slave dwellings two families yeah one household here another enslaved household over there it just show that

Was two different worlds this front big beautiful world here in lavish and you go right behind the house and it was a whole different story it’s kind of crazy for me just even walk around out there do you own that do you own the slave house too I to S B I do

That’s mine wow Fred Miller’s purchase continues to surprise his family and Intrigue historians when we come back when Fred Miller unwittingly purchased what he now knows to be the Charwood plantation house with slave quarters just by behind it he knew virtually nothing about his own family history he’d always assumed his

Ancestors had been enslaved but it felt to him like an unknowable part of a distant past learning about his great grandmother Sarah Miller whom his mother had known as a child piqued his interest so when he found out her house was still standing just a few miles away from

Charwood he asked his mother Betty Dixon to go there with him all right we’re going to walk down through here Betty’s grandmother Sarah had been the first of their ancestors to be born into Freedom shortly after the Civil War that’s I saw C didn’t had no light no electricity Betty remembers

Visiting and spending the night here with her grandmother and cousins whoa what is the one room Sarah’s house didn’t look much bigger than the slave dwelling just a single room with a smaller one above it and no indoor plumbing come a long ways huh sure did glad I didn’t have to live

In here well had to make it work you want a piece of this wallpaper to take with you yeah I hope the landlord don’t say nothing oh Lord there you go Sarah Miller is buried in the cemetery of the church the Miller family still attends

I’m glad now I can actually come in and see but unbeknownst to this Miller family just 5 miles up the road in a different Church Cemetery was a tombstone that also read Miller a far older one with names Fred and his family had never heard of but were about to in Karen’s

Search for information about Charwood she found a document that mentioned them it gave the names of the original owners who was Nathaniel kinshaw Miller and also Charles Edwin Miller Miller yes Miller any light bulbs any wires connect no not at that point time not at that

Point it did not others had suspected a connection between the two sets of Millers cuz I was telling Dexter Back in 88 I knew Bill Thompson says he had mentioned the thought to Dexter 30 years ago what we had been taught in high school was that when they free the

Slaves they just took the last name of the person that was there which was Miller I just said told Dex Dex there’s a good chance that your ancestors came off of this phone he did he said that so you knew that this was a plantation I

Did well Fred you said you didn’t know I had no idea Dexter you didn’t tell Fred I did not tell Fred I did not tell anyone Dexter says he kept it to himself because he hadn’t found any way to prove it and that’s where this becomes a detective story with the Miller cousins

Now on a mission to figure out whether it could be possible that their own ancestors might have been enslaved on the very property Fred now owned the first step was figuring out who their last enslaved ancestors were and Sarah Miller’s death certificate held the answer the names of her parents David

And violet Miller who would have been adults at the time of emancipation did you know anything about them not at all not at all I didn’t know anything about them we didn’t even Mar and keys who knew Sarah Miller had never heard their names nothing wow sure

Didn’t I just I want everybody to know enter karice luck Brimmer a local historian and genealogist Karen reached out to her to see if she could could help what are the special challenges looking for the ancestors of African-Americans African-Americans were not listed by name until the 1870 census so before

That they were just a number I mean if they were in slave they yes weren’t listed at all so really you’re just looking for any type of tips and clues that you can she started by looking at 1860 records for Charwood then owner NC for Nathaniel khaw Miller there he is NC

Miller right there okay he had 58 slaves here but with only age and gender listed you have enslave people 69 44 34 and not a single name no name there was no way of knowing whether Violet and David were among them so karice looked up David and VI Violet Miller in the

1870 census the first one after the Civil War where they finally appeared by name it showed they were Farm hands that they couldn’t read or write and it listed their children including as karee showed us a very young Sarah Miller there’s Sarah she’s one year old one

Years old and this looks like Emily yes she’s three and here’s Samuel yeah he’s five to karice that meant Samuel Sarah’s older brother was born before emancipation so karice searched for him in another historical record called the Virginia Slave birth index where slave owners had to list births on their

Property this document and there under NC Miller’s name NC right and there’s Samuel oh was Samuel and look at that oh my God L Violet as his mother it was the genealogy equivalent of a Smoking Gun so this is proof that Violet Sarah’s mother was enslaved by NC Miller yes and this

Is absolute proof this is absolute definite proof and you were able to tell Karen that her ancestors David and violet were enslaved at Charwood but that was tough so did you call Fred I did I don’t think he believed me in the beginning believe so the connection suddenly is

Made with your family slavery right in this house this house and you own it once I realized that it was actually my blood that was here took on a whole meaning for me it really saddens me sometime when I you know and I’m up a

Lot of times I’m up we hours of the night now just thinking about what happened here as news spread through the family there was sadness but that’s not all there was I almost felt like I was losing my breath for a moment it was almost like a feeling of being found yes

This is where I started and as black people we don’t always know where we started so here we are sitting in this house can’t believe it I can’t believe it that I’m in the plantation house of the plantation that my family was enslaved you’re laughing as

If this cannot be true canot be that’s right but it is I felt I Feel Complete wow I’m not half of a human being anymore they make me whole even if I don’t know them I felt a connection ction to them at Charwood I touched the tree I hugged the

Tree and I said oh my God you was here when my ancestor was here I wonder which ancestor of mine touched the tree I didn’t know what to say or do I just hugged the tree and felt like I’m home he shared the news with Bill Thompson who had had that hunch all

Those years ago I look at it that I’ve been a servant to this farm and this house my whole life and for the Miller family to come back home to my home our home our home absolutely it’s great it’s a celebration of of coming home this is God MH this is this

Is where we’re supposed to be it’s like a full circle like it was meant to happen to me like was meant to happen the Millers also see the hand of their ancestors in all of this I think there had to be because I did everything I did

Everything in my power to make this mail did not make it happen yeah I tried to mess it up at every angle yeah he like but those ancestors had one more surprise in store with all the revelations there was one question that continued to gnaw at Dexter where were

His enslaved ancestors buried so last winter he asked bill I bill is one question that’s been bothering me where is the slave Cemetery he said de uh it’s right over there I said right over where he said you see those trees over there so did you just go right up there then

We went right up there the trees Bill Thompson pointed to just beyond Fred’s property sure didn’t look like a sem that is until you start to look closely is that one of the that’s one that’s one of them right there as you can see this is the um

Indention right there um The Headstone there maybe this is the footstone on the other end yes there’s always seem like to be there one yeah absolutely poking up through the leaves all around us were pointed rocks some small some mediumsized no names no engraving just plain Anonymous markers of Many Many

Lives wow this is astonishing it is it’s kind of overwhelming isn’t it it is it really is I mean we all live in the same area we come past this place and we would not know that our ancestors were right there beside us the entire time Fred if you hadn’t bought that house

Right you’re right if I had want in health we never know never never so how has all of this affected you it’s uh it’s changed me it’s definitely changed me um you ever angry I get a little little bit upset sometimes um when I find out things that

I should have known already um angry at yourself at myself and at the system because I think that we should have known more what about the school system should have known more family should have known more absolutely you want the story of slavery told I want the story of slavery told it’s

So this was converted from a door to a window yeah Fred wants to do whatever is necessary to preserve the slave house you know this has been exposed for you know 200 years he’s in the process of setting up a nonprofit to make that possible that’s important to me too

Because I know a whole lot of emphasis on it on that Big White House there exactly but this right here is really near and this Theory this is the story absolutely 1 2 3 4 5 6 seven eight there’s eight right here and he’s been thinking about the cemetery too I can

Imagine this being someone young we have to do something about this yeah have to and I will I’m going to fix it do you think you might allow historians to come and absolutely and absolutely this place will be open to anyone who wants to learn anyone anyone can come here

But for now Charwood is serving the purpose Fred bought it for in the first place Gathering the Miller family together in celebration happy birthday to you happy birthday to you happy birthday happy birthday to you what do you think Violet and David would think they could see that you on this place

Yeah I’m I’m hoping they will be proud of us and I think they would be they endured a lot I mean I can’t even imagine what they went through looking down on us now they must be smiling at us since our story first aired Fred

Miller took a new job in Virginia to be closer to his family he has set up a nonprofit Charwood Foundation to maintain the slave quarters and Cemetery and has begun offering tours of the house no one can say when human remains began surfacing in Clearwater Florida there was the pipeline crew that churned

Up bones in a trench later remains of the Dead were found at an elementary school a swimming pool and an office building it seemed like a curse for what had been done in the name of progress and greed in the old segregated South the truth of what happened in the 40s

And 50s was meant to stay buried but in a neighborhood called Clearwater Heights residents with long memories recognized a grave Injustice in the first half of the 20th century Clearwater Heights was a black neighborhood thriving proud and anchored by faith Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Bethany CME and New Zion

Missionary Baptist Church were all located on the Heights and so is St Matthews Baptist where we heard stories of childhood in the Heights including those of Diane Stevens and elanar Breeland they had businesses barber shops uh there were hairdressers over there there was a cab company I don’t

Had one cab but it was still a cab company right there on Greenwood they had different places where even Ray Charles performed there also James Brown performed up there but even the famous could not stay in a white Clearwater hotel or walk on the beach or swim in

The bay segregation bound their lives and exiled even their memory to segregated graveyards how many of you believe you have ancestors in one of these cemeteries about half of you the segregated cemeteries of Clearwater were sacred ground until the ground became valuable in the 1950s headlines announced that the city of Clearwater

Made a deal on moving a negro Cemetery hundreds of African-American bodies were to to be reburied to make way for a swimming pool a department store was planned for the sight of another black Cemetery where again the bodies were to be moved but O’Neal Lin remembers many years later his first revelation that

Something was terribly wrong it’s not an imaginary thing that I seen it’s what I seen with my own eyes Lin 82 years old watched a construction crew in 1984 dig a trench through the site of a relocated black Cemetery but I remember um the parking lot where the engineers traffic

Engineer was cutting the lines through and they cut through two coffins that was my first knowledge of seeing it because I walked out there and I seen it myself in 2019 the Tampa Bay Times reported many segregated cemeteries in Florida had been essentially paved it was then that the modern city

Of Clearwater decided to exume the truth people deserve to be treated with respect that’s the most important thing Rebecca O Sullivan and Aon mckendry are archaeologists for a company called cardno cardno was hired by the city to map the desecration these individuals were loved they were family members they were fathers and mothers

And they were entred with love mckendry and O Sullivan pushed ground penetrating radar over a segregated Cemetery where this office site stands today this overlay shows part of their Discovery 328 likely Graves many under the parking lot perhaps a few under the building and more there on the right beneath South Missouri Avenue

550 graves are in the cemetery’s record mckendry and O Sullivan found evidence of 11 having been moved in the 1950s so there may be hundreds of bodies still at that site it’s possible not far away the archaeologists probed another former Cemetery where there’s more what looks like the intact

Like gra set here in the 1950s rather than and integrate the white community pool the city said it would move hundreds of bodies to build a black swimming pool and a black school but the bodies weren’t removed but the bodies were not removed cardino found the proof last

Year it excavated just deep enough to confirm what ground penetrating radar had suggested it is their resting place a prayer was said over over the site then they planed the sand and cved A Century Of Time In Search of grave markers or tributes inevitably relics included human remains

Teeth at the office building site and bones at the school which had closed in 2008 because it was obsolete are there grape sites underneath the school all of the information and the data that we collected does indicate that there are additional burials likely below the footprint of that school

Building I would be very surprised if they didn’t find any bones when they were O’Neal Lin watched the excavation and imagined the groundbreaking at the school construction site in 1961 to dig the foundation to put this school upon they had to hit some form of of remains it’s likely some families could

Not afford a tombstone but the archaeologists found Graves were marked doesn’t that look like one of those metal PL thing this is a marker that would have been used initially after the burial if the stone was not ready to be placed and in some cases this is all

That would have been used to Mark the location of a burial Aaron mckendry showed us Cardinal’s catalog of evidence it’s a Mercury Dime it is a Mercury Dime this dime new in 42 was among many tributes left with the dead we also found this brass wedding ring at

Approximately the same location in the same depth as the dime1 the tributes and Disturbed human remains were carefully reburied exactly where they were found pending a decision on what to do next if you could speak to these people who were interred and then lost what would you tell them I hear you I’m

Working I want to recognize the contributions the life you lived I recognize and see your Humanity the cheapest land the worst places Anthropologist Antoinette Jackson leads the africanamerican burial ground project at the University of South Florida she’s building a database of desecrated cemeteries not just clear waters

Nationally from New York all the way out toward Texas and all the way down to South Florida where these cemeteries have been built over uh erased marginalized underfunded and need support in order to make uh make them whole and have this history known this is not an isolated story unfortunately

So far Jackson has listed about 70 effaced black cemeteries Nationwide underneath the current housing under housing freeways and the county owned parking lot of Tropicana Field home to baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays what we want to bring forward is the memory the knowledge that these sites were there these places these cemeteries these

Families were there lived died work contributed to our country to their communities to our hometowns is there evidence of white cemeteries being lost abandoned forgotten in the way that these are there are abandoned cemeteries across the board there are cemeteries that are not only African-American cemeteries or black cemeteries that have

Been in some way desecrated but the issue is more acute with black cemeteries because of issues like slavery segregation in which this particular Community were legally and intentionally considered lesser than or marginalized by law when a cemetery disappears what is law lost H history history history respect great deal of

Respect because you can no longer visit all right and bring closure to your own soul a cemetery is supposed to be your final resting place honorable Place Final in clearw they’re debating how to honor those in tombed beneath the school South Missouri Avenue and the property of the Frank crumb company which bought

Its headquarters for its Staffing business decades after the cemetery was erased I’m sure that when they purchased that property they didn’t know that there were bodies there no so the head would be fa zebie Atkinson heads the Clearwater NAACP what would you say to someone who might make the argument that disturbing Missouri

Avenue disturbing the Frank crumb Corporation disturbing the schools way too much effort M at this point in I would say that that’s not their call they have no family buried there atson is helping lead the conversation of what to do now among descendants businesses and the

City some people want to have the bodies move to a place where they can properly memorialize them some of the descended Community wants to let the people stay where they are those are the type of things that need to be worked out how do you work

Them out we have to sit and talk about it I mean there is no easy answer with that whether the failure in the last century to move the graves was deceit incompetence or indifference we do not know but today Clearwater is spending $270,000 to learn the truth the city

Told us it is searching for a compromise that will honor the Dead the Frank crumb company told us it wants to be part of the community’s solution ideas include monuments but for a few like O’Neal Lin there’s only one route to Justice tear it down tear the

Building down tear it down tear down that building as far as I’m concerned scar us tear the school down make it a shrine of memories that people can go and use it in a proper way of remembering to treat them with more dignity than what this has been treated

We noticed d it was treated gently in the white cemeteries of Clearwater in this one we found a monument to a confederate soldier his grave decorated today with a fresh Banner of racism but when this Confederate sacred ground found itself blocking the road to progress the small Cemetery under those

Trees in the middle was granted a reverent circular detour of those citizens buried in the black cemeteries of Clearwater we have images of only these the Reverend Arthur L Jackson the Reverend Joseph Hines and Ma Dixon senior who was buried beside his wife Florence three children and two

Grandchildren we do not know the faces of 500 more Who Remain forever Bound by segregation and lost to the memory of time the death of George Floyd in the hands of Minneapolis police came on Memorial Day 99 years before that same week black Americans suffered a massacre

In the the days after World War I a neighborhood in Tulsa Oklahoma called Greenwood was among the wealthiest black communities oil made Greenwood rich but jealousy made it suffer in 1921 a white mob with incendiary rage burned Greenwood to Ash even memories were murdered when the dead were dropped into

Unmarked Graves last December before the pandemic we found Tulsa preparing to embrace a Reckoning with a plan to exume the truth and raise the Dead the community that is Greenwood has thriving businesses professional offices doctors lawyers dentists the history of John W Franklin speaks of Greenwood in the present tense

Greenwood is the Nexus of that African-American Community perhaps because he studied Greenwood in 32 years as a historian at the Smithsonian or likely because Greenwood is personal and my grandfather moves here from ranville in February 1921 and he’s the first person in the family to go to college Buck Calbert

Franklin Buck Colbert Franklin was a lawyer who chased his dream to a Promised Land Booker T Washington named Greenwood negro Wall Street because the district was lined with blackowned shops restaurants two newspapers a 54 room Grand Hotel a hospital and the Dreamland Theater which would soon boast air

Conditioning but on the day after Memorial Day 1921 Buck Franklin awoke to fearful news he hears that there’s to be possibly a lynching there’s this black man who’s been caught with this white woman in the elevator and and the newspapers are saying Read All About It there extra

Extra Read All About It Tulsa’s white newspapers told of a black teenager who allegedly attacked a white female elevator operator at the jail a Lynch Mob demanded The Prisoner black veterans of World War I arrived to Shield the defendant for his day in court a shot

Was fired and in a running gun battle the mob chased the black vets to Greenwood one of the moments during the riot that your grandfather wrote about was this on they rushed whooping to the tops of their voices firing their guns every step they took what is it like for

You to read those words today he too was traumatized by seeing people being shot in front of his eyes he describes a woman who’s trying to find her child who’s run in front of her and she’s unafraid of the bullets raining down because her concern is to

Find her child what began as an attempted lynching at the jail erupted into a massacre from a high grain elevator a machine gun laid fire on Greenwood Avenue where’s the fire department where’s the police when we need them we’re part of a city this is

Not some small town this is a city of wealth and Order and governance it is now taken over by a mob the police joined the mob National Guard troops pressed the attack against what one Guard officer called The Enemy quotes from eyewitnesses include old women and men children were running and screaming

Everywhere a deputy sheriff reported a black man dragged behind a car his head was was being bashed in the deputy said bouncing on the steel rails and Bricks but what happened next may have frightened Buck Franklin even more and he hears planes circling and sees roofs of buildings Catching

Fire and these are from turpentine balls burning turpentine balls dropped from Planes the first time in American history uh the airplanes were used to terrorize America was not at 9/11 was not at Pearl Harbor it was right here in the Greenwood District Reverend Robert Turner’s Vernon am church was among at

Least five churches burned along with 12200 homes a photo was crudely and imperfectly handlettered at the time running the Negro out of Tula 36 odd square blocks city blocks was destroyed and before they destroyed it they looted they took nice furniture money when the Black Hospital burned white hospitals refused to take

Greenwoods wounded those who bled to death included Greenwood’s most prominent surgeon ultimately One hospital did make space in its basement for black casualties the number of dead is estimated between 150 and 300 survivors included 10,000 now homeless African Americans 6,000 of them were herded into internment camps and then

Released weeks later I don’t know how they did it uh but the following Sunday after the massacre they came and worship in our basement and that’s the same basement that we have today I the death of a black man at the hands of police is today shouted into the national memory

Thanks to all of you for being here I but in 1921 it remained possible to erase a genocide I grew up attending segregated Tulsa Public Schools never in any of the schools was anything ever said about it the congregation of Vernon am church is two generations Beyond

1921 but they too were victimized this was not taught in the public schools no you never heard about this in class you never heard a word about it when I went to OU in 1998 I was sitting in a class of African-American history and the professor was talking about this place

With black people had businesses and had money and had doctors and lawyers and he said was in Tulsa and I I raised my hand I said no I’m from Tulsa that’s not accurate and he was talking about this massacre RI I said man what are you talking about I said I

Went to school on Greenwood I’ve never heard of this ever how many people were around arrested tried for what happened in Greenwood no one two or 300 people murdered an entire Community burned to the ground and the police were unable to find a single person it’s a real tragedy all the

Thousands of claims that were filed by African-Americans not a one not a One Insurance Company paid that claim and our church was included no insurance honored for black tulson no arrests made no complete count of the Dead the Salvation Army recorded only that it fed 37 gravediggers the nameless were buried in

Unmarked Graves while their families were locked down in the interment camps I wonder if there are any doubts in this room about whether there are mass graves in Tulsa Oklahoma no doubts my great grandmother aw oral histories passed down Generations pointed to at least four sites of possible Mass Graves as a

Mayor I view it as a homicide investigation phase one GT bam is Tulsa’s Republican mayor in 2018 he ordered an investigation of all remaining evidence what you have is a case of Law and civil order being overrun by people who were filled with hatred we believe at the end of this

Road we’re walking down right now is one of the sites uh where we found an anomaly anomalies of disturbed Earth showed up in the studies of Scott hammerstad that’s not a mower it’s ground penetrating radar and right here is the anomaly as we see he’s a senior researcher at the Oklahoma

Archaeological survey the anomalies that we’re looking at what are those it’s just contrast between uh the sort of the surrounding soil that’s undisturbed and then this soil that has been Disturbed so we’re not seeing in these images human remains no no it’s definitely not like CSI you don’t see individual

Skeletons you just see disturbances and contrasts which is why you can’t really say necessarily that for sure it’s a common grave but it’s very consistent with one of course there’s any number of things it could be that’s always the the thing I have to remind myself and

There’s only one way to find out that is exactly right we have to dig we have to dig but we don’t know what’s underneath a 10-day test excavation is scheduled to begin in July led by University of Florida forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield she’ll investigate cause of death but it’s complicated because of

The Spanish Flu pandemic from the same period so just because you find a burial site it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s from the massacre correct and so I’m interested in markers like signs of violence or any kind of U ballistic injuries or chop injuries can you retrieve DNA if it’s a good preservation

State there’s a high probability would it be possible in your opinion to actually Identify some of these people we could try for genealogical matches so if we had people now who say oh I’m missing a relative from that time period here’s my DNA then we can make um

Matches through similar markers and do the genealogical matches there’s a long Legacy from 1921 Tulsa is still one of the most segregated cities in the country yes the north part of Tulsa is black the South part is white and the twain don’t meet very much right because

Uh of the history of uh racial disparity that exists in our city a kid that’s growing up in the predominantly African-American part of our city is expected to live 11 years less than a kid that’s growing up in a wider part of the city by the way Tulsa is not unique

In that regard you see disparities like that in major cities all around America the test excavation is expected to discover whether there are human remains next steps would include recovery and the question of how to honor those who have waited nearly 100 years for justice how do you commemorate

An event that gives dignity and honor to the people who’ve been lost we have taken in recent decades in our memorials to etch the names of every single person who was lost the 9/11 Memorial the Vietnam memorial that’s not going to be possible here we don’t know the names we

Don’t know the names and you’re going to have to do some kind of you know uh we have the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so it has to be something that is representative of Lost Souls Lost in anonymity um something like that will have to be planned

At a time when we’re having a national discussion about how black history fits into the American Mosaic we discovered that many stories of black achievement are slipping away going unpreserved for future Generations a nonpartisan nonprofit organization called the history makers is hoping to change that by creating an expansive digital Archive

Of firstperson accounts founder Juliana Richardson told us she’s determined to document the black experience in America one story at a time in society today what is being debated who has value and who doesn’t you preserve what has value you throw away what doesn’t that’s why the preservation is so critical Juliana

Richardson has been preserving black American stories for the past two decades one day she’s interviewing the first black President of ruter University Jonathan Holloway what things did you find out about well the sort of the daily racism my siblings dealt with another day it’s brandise University Professor Anita Hill one of them in

Three Counties the census takers actually bothered to list the Slaves by name and that’s how I met and found out who my great great grandparents were Hill known for her testimony against Clarence Thomas wasn’t easy to get it’s been a long time coming I’m really happy

To have you here why is it important to have these first-person accounts how else are you going to know what really has happened in the black community if you don’t allow the community to speak for itself you’ve called these America’s missing stories they are they’re Americans missing stories and American history won’t be

Complete without them Richardson and her small staff in Chicago have created the country’s largest collection of African-American oral histories there are more than 3,500 interviews so far each one is transcribed then posted online it’s a who’s who of Black America there are luminaries like poet Maya Angelo I’m not speaking to blacks and

Blacks alone a tall women of fat thin or no I’m to everybody and there are rising stars like a young Barack Obama who would you say has influenced you most in your life Richardson interviewed him when he was an Illinois state senator not just Dr King or Malcolm X but Bob

Moses and Fanny Lamer and uh Rosa Parks think about this this is like 2001 by 2008 he’s president of the United States extraordinary extraordinary is a good way to describe the breadth and depth of the collection you want to hear something real crazy yes not long before he died Bas baritone

William Warfield gave an impromptu performance in German while recounting his Vienna performance of Showboat that brought down the House everybody who sees this is sort of for all Juliana Richardson says as a child all she knew of black history was that her great-grandfather had been enslaved she grew up in a predominantly white Ohio town and told us when she was nine she was the only black student in

Her class you had not been taught anything about black American history in school nothing but I’m not the only one no I I wasn’t either it’s a common story as a sophomore at brandise she traveled to New York’s Shamburg library for a project on the Harlem Renaissance she

Had an epiphany while listening to a song har she thought was about President Harry Truman I learned for the first time that this song is written by black songwriting team of noble sisle and UB Blake in the 1921 production of shuffle along on Broadway I mean it was like

Whoo and I’m listening to the music I’m I’m just wild about Harry Harry’s wild about me and it was like it open appetite and I’m reading and I’m studying and I’m listening and I’m hearing I’m hearing these things that I had no knowledge of For the First Time

The Spark was lit but didn’t catch fire her father had wanted her to be a lawyer after Harvard Law School she had a successful career as a corporate lawyer and cable entrepreneur but she was Restless I was in my mid-40s I didn’t have children you get to a point in your life

When you start asking you know what is going to be your leave behind what is going to be your legacy and I want it to do good in my life as she mold her future she went to a legal conference in Memphis and heard the Reverend Billy KY who was on the

Hotel balcony with Dr Martin Luther King junr when he was assassinated Richardson realized there were lots of important stories like his at that moment the name the history makers came to me and I came back and I was like I know what I’m going to do it’s called the history makers it’s

Going to be an archive of black people in the beginning did you have a lot of encouragement my friends did an intervention they literally did an intervention with no money no formal training in oral history or professional archiving she launched the history makers in 1999 at first it wasn’t easy to get

People to share their intimate stories with a stranger but she convinced a Tuskegee Airman Colonel Bill Thompson we were flying now with white guys he says have you heard of the golden 13 and I said no Colonel Thompson I’ve never heard of the golden 13 and he said where

They were the Navy’s version of the tusy Airmen and he said four left living in this country and one lives upstairs and he wants to talk to you also and it was just at that point that I you know I knew we’re at a point of Discovery by

2012 she had discovered so much the archive had grown so vast The Collection so significant the Library of Congress agreed to become its permanent repository alongside the only other project of its magnitude the WPA slave narratives recorded during the Great Depression I go oh my God the stories of

The formerly enslaved and the stories of the progeny of the formerly enslaved are all together in the Library of Congress in the Library of Congress y doesn’t get better than that Juliana Juliana Richardson is not one to rest on her Laurels when she’s not conducting interviews or researching new subjects

She’s even working on me she’s fundraising every interview costs those $6,000 to process when she real realized the archive needed more athletes she persuaded the NFL to donate hundreds of hours of its own interviews with black players last year she landed hall of fame wide receiver Jerry Rice who

Couldn’t believe he got the call because it’s almost just like going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this is big for me rice showed us the 49ers Museum in their home stadium so what’s with all these footballs well these represent all my touchdowns all of this yeah all of this

Right here he scored 208 touchdowns over 20 Seasons still an NFL record he played in four Super Bowls one three and snagged a Super Bowl MVP but rice said the history makers wanted to know as much about his upbringing in rural Mississippi did you have Plumbing indoor

Plumbing uh no we did it was outdoor he told us poverty fueled his drive for Success we were very poor very poor uh my father was a brick layer and he would take me to work with him during the summer very demanding work I used to be

Up on this scaffold that was probably about 20 ft in the air and my my brothers down below they would toss the bricks up and I would snatch the bricks out of the air and I always prided myself on you know being that really strong link what’s important about your

Story for anybody who starts searching for you with the younger generation when they see someone you know who looks like them and say hey look that guy he made it that might be that little that little kick that little nudge to make them work a little bit harder Juliana Richardson

Believes stories of struggle and success are powerful motivators for all Races especially young minds so she’s convinced more than 180 colleges and universities to subscribe to history makers and she recently rolled out a new curriculum for schools in New York Atlanta Chicago and Charlotte did you know immediately that you wanted to use

It in the classroom yes I did last spring we visited teacher Rachel Davis and her social studies class at ow HTH Middle School near Chicago the student body is largely African-American and many had lost family members in the pandemic sometimes in one household it was three or four grandparent an aunt a

Cousin um and then we had students who were starting to have a lot of anxiety depression Davis saw the perfect Sav in the history makers curriculum from Lost to thriving she had her students browse the archives and pick history makers who had overcome adversity who did you end

Up choosing for your project uh I chose the honorable blanch and Manning she’s a uh United States uh District Court Judge Elina Williams she’s a sports reporter Rodney Atkins he’s a part of the IBM industry Andre Samuel Lauren rounds and Tyler Rush told us they found the record

Of black achievement to be richer and more diverse than they had ever imagined or been taught from maybe kindergarten to sixth grade we heard this MLK R alic the madam CJ Walker the same people has it changed now that you’ve met some people who may not have been in the

History books it’s a lot uh easier to actually see what we went through and how we persevered through it and it just shows how strong we are really and think about this what if I had had our archives back when I was nine when you were that nine-year-old girl think about

That I mean there was actually black history in my town just yards from where I was there was a man named Shackleford who sat at with his gunpoint during the the white Community to tear down his school for black kids the fifth president of Liberia was born in New

York Ohio in your hometown in my hometown in 1815 I’m thinking there’s no black history but it was all around me and that’s with the kids it’s all around them but they don’t know it they don’t touch it so they can’t aspire to be what they don’t really see but now because of

Your archives they can know I can that’s got to be rewarding yes it is but our work is not done Juliana Richardson is now on a mission to collect and digitize the papers of History makers these belong to Entertainer Eartha kid and she found a willing partner in Ford

Foundation president Darren Walker this organization is indeed a National Treasure and you Juliana are a National Treasure treasure and so I’m very very happy to make this pledge of a million dollars to your great work I’ve worked 24/7 for 22 years and I’m surrounded by these such Rich

Stories till I take my last breath I mean they will always be a part of me and the little girl I mean I’m now a very richly endowed person that no one can tell me that me and my people don’t have tremendous value no one can tell me that ever

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Video “Sharswood; Exhuming paved over Black cemeteries; Tulsa race massacre; HistoryMakers | Full Episodes” was uploaded on 02/03/2024 to Youtube Channel 60 Minutes