Inaugural Tulsa Race Massacre Annual Lectureship

Phillips Theological Seminary announces the inaugural lecturer for the Tulsa Race Massacre Annual Lectureship will be the Rev. Dr. Angela Sims, president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. She is the author of the book, Lynched: The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror.

The book “chronicles the history and aftermath of lynching in America. By rooting her work in oral histories, (she) gives voice to the memories of African American elders who remember lynching not only as individual acts but as a culture of violence, domination, and fear,” says the book’s back cover.

This lectureship commemorates the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The Greenwood District of Tulsa, also known as

Black Wall Street, developed within an America that held the belief that prosperity was a sign of God’s blessings.

Whereas the all-Black residents of Greenwood, who inherited an African spirituality, held the belief there is no separation between the sacred and the secular, they no doubt believed their success was God ordained. Just as religion is a synthetic feature of African cultures, religion and spirituality were the glue that helped the people of the decimated Greenwood to survive.

Engaging Greenwood’s prosperity as evidence of faith, and conceiving the devastation as the destruction of the household of faith, this annual lecture shifts the gaze from the aesthetics of inanimate buildings to the stories of human lives.

The traumatic end of Greenwood is the story of how easily the Image of God can be distorted and destroyed as well as the power of resilience and resistance. Each year, we will invite a noted scholar to suggest the lessons the history offers and interpret the inherited legacies that must be confronted.