Hannibal B. Johnson

How to heal our history

In 1921, a “race riot” rocked Tulsa. That seismic shock, now widely called a massacre, destroyed a thriving African American business district and killed scores of black citizens. Time, coupled with deliberate obfuscation, resulted in a loss of historical knowledge about the event even as its effects linger. As the centennial of the massacre approaches, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission promotes education and awareness, a renewal of the “Black Wall Street” entrepreneurial mindset, cultural tourism, and racial reconciliation. Commissioner and author Hannibal B. Johnson will examine the roots the massacre, consider its legacy, and offer examples of how Tulsans are working to heal history through acknowledgement, apology, and atonement.

Hannibal B. Johnson, a Harvard Law School graduate, is an author, attorney, and consultant specializing in diversity and inclusion issues, human relations, leadership, and non-profit leadership and management. He has taught at The University of Tulsa College of Law, Oklahoma State University, and The University of Oklahoma. Johnson serves on the federal 400 Years of African-American History Commission. His books, including Black Wall Street, Up From the Ashes, Acres of Aspiration, Apartheid in Indian Country, Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District, and The Sawners of Chandler, chronicle the African American experience in Oklahoma and its indelible impact on American history. Johnson’s play, Big Mama Speaks—A Tulsa Race Riot Survivor’s Story, was selected for the 2011 National Black Theatre Festival and has been staged in Caux, Switzerland. He has received numerous honors and awards for this work and community service. hannibalbjohnson.com