IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

White Tulsans kept the 1921 race massacre a secret. Now, it's time to confront the past.

As Tulsa excavates the bloody past of the 1921 race massacre, the Into America podcast explores how white residents are coming to terms with their history.

About this episode:

100 years ago this week, a white mob burned down Tulsa's Greenwood District, a bustling business district. For decades, the government refused to acknowledge the Tulsa Race Massacre ever happened.

Only now, 100 years later, is that silencebeginning to break, as an effort is underway to identify mass graves in Tulsa for the first time in history. Trymaine Lee visits a mass grave site with Kavin Ross, a local journalist, activist, and descendent of victims of the massacre.

But even as Black Tulsa has fought to unearth the truth and recover the remains of their ancestors, those efforts have been met with resistance and silence from many white Tulsans.

Ruth Sigler Avery is one of the few white Tulsans who did not remain silent, after witnessing some of the horrific aftermath of the massacre as a child. Ruth dedicated her life to documenting the massacre, but even members of her own family did not believe her story. Trymaine speaks to Ruth’s daughter, Joy Avery, about the shame and guilt that has kept this history buried in white families for so long.

At All Souls Unitarian, a historically white church in Tulsa, Reverend Marlin Lavanhar is working to get his congregation to wrestle with its role in the massacre. Many white members, including those who are descended from people involved, have chosen to leave the church rather than confront the past. Young Tulsans, like Bailey McBride, are ready and willing to learn the history and help take responsibility for the past. But even the most informed white Tulsans are still learning things they didn’t know about their connections to the massacre.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at

Find the transcript here.

Listen here:

Apple Podcasts


Google Podcasts