March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 36

G AT H E R I N G P L A C E

But to properly understand the
context in which Gathering Place
originated and exists, one must
go back to exactly 100 years ago
when Tulsa was the oil capital of
the world and one of the country's
fastest growing and innovative cities. During this time, also thriving in Tulsa was a small African
American community, called the
Greenwood District. Greenwood
was dubbed " Black Wall Street " by
Booker T. Washington.
Then one day in 1921, a 19-yearold African American shoe shiner,
named Dick Rowland, was accused
of assaulting Sara Page, a white
17-year-old elevator operator. Rowland was arrested, and Black leaders tried to protect Rowland from
being lynched. One single gunshot
started what would later transpire
to be the worst race massacre in the
history of the United States. In just

two days, from May 31 to June 1,
the Greenwood District was completely burned down, 10,000 African Americans were left homeless,
100 people were killed, and millions of dollars were lost.
Now fast forward 100 years. Today, Tulsa is a progressive city on
the path toward healing, but with
a very long and steep climb ahead.
The Tulsa community continually
grapples with this terrible sin of the
past, but there is agreement that the
current efforts are not enough.

Unifying a Community
Gathering Place was the brainchild
of Tulsa's philanthropic " differencemaker, " George Kaiser, who, with
more than 80 different community
donors - including the city of Tulsa - gifted $465 million to create
a community park like no other.
This donation to Gathering Place

PHOTO BY SHANE BEVEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Gathering Place was designed to be a public
space of unity, where Tulsans would feel
welcome to visit and gather.

36	 Parks & Recreation

| M A R C H 2 02 1 | PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N .O R G

is the largest one-time donation
to a community park in the history of the United States. From the
park's origination, Kaiser wanted
it to be a place that would have a
tremendous impact on his beloved
community. The hope was that it
would be a public space of unity,
where Tulsans would feel welcome
to visit and gather.
Before the park opened, Gathering Place Executive Director Tony
Moore, even being African American himself, had to learn and work
to understand the emotional needs
of this Black community 100 years
after the Greenwood Massacre.
He quickly discovered that current
day descendants of the massacre
still have very real and active emotional scars.
As park operator, Moore had to
build relations with the community
by getting to know both residents



March 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March 2021 - Parks & Recreation

March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 2
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 3
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March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
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