Posted on August 17, 2023

Oklahoma’s High Court Will Consider a Reparations Case From 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors

Ayanna Alexander and Sean Murphy, Associated Press, August 16, 2023

The Oklahoma Supreme Court will consider a reparations case from survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre after a lower court judge dismissed it last month, giving hope to advocates for racial justice that government may make amends in one of the worst single acts of violence against Black people in U.S. history.

Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall dismissed the case on July 9. Survivors appealed and the state’s high court agreed last week to consider whether that decision was proper and if the case should be returned to her court for further consideration.

In response to the appeal, the state told the court Monday that it won’t consider a settlement with the survivors. {snip}

Just three survivors of the attack are known to still be living, all more than 100 years old. {snip}


The lawsuit was brought under Oklahoma’s public nuisance law, saying actions of the white mob that killed hundreds of Black residents and destroyed what had been the nation’s most prosperous Black business district continue to affect the city’s Black community. It alleges Tulsa’s long history of racial division and tension stemmed from the massacre.

But the state says that argument was properly dismissed by Judge Wall. The judge properly determined that the plaintiffs failed to outline a clearly identifiable claim for relief, Assistant Attorney General Kevin McClure wrote in the state’s response to the appeal.

“All their allegations are premised on conflicting historical facts from over 100 years ago, wherein they have failed to properly allege how the Oklahoma Military Department created (or continues to be responsible for) an ongoing ‘public nuisance,’ McClure wrote.

McClure claims the state’s National Guard was activated only to quell the disturbance and left Tulsa after the mission was accomplished. The survivors’ lawsuit alleges National Guard members participated in the massacre {snip}