Deon J. Hampton, NBC News, May 28, 2021
A cornerstone event of the Tulsa Race Massacre commemoration in Oklahoma was abruptly canceled because lawyers representing survivors and descendants demanded a higher fee for their participation in the event than had been originally agreed upon, a commission official said.
Legal representatives for the three living survivors approached the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission about including them in the “Remember and Rise” occasion in return for $100,000 each and a $2 million seed gift to a reparations coalition fund, state Sen. Kevin Matthews, chairman of the commission, said in a Friday press conference.
The parties agreed to those terms, he said.
At the last minute, the lawyers representing the survivors moved to change the agreement, requesting $1 million for each and $50 million for the fund, said Matthews, who did not take questions.
“We could not respond to those demands,” he said. “I absolutely want the survivors, the descendants and others that were affected to be financially and emotionally supported, however this is not the way, no matter how hard we try.”
“Remember and Rise” was touted as a headlining occasion featuring the Grammy Award-winning singer John Legend and the influential Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams to mark the 100th anniversary of the destruction of Black Wall Street.
“Due to unexpected circumstances with entertainers and speakers, the Centennial Commission is unable to fulfill our high expectations,” according to the commission, which was sponsoring the gathering. “We have hopes to reschedule later in this 100th commemorative year. We apologize for the disappointment and any inconvenience caused to ticket holders.”