Tulsa man’s manuscript of the 1921 Race Massacre now kept at the Smithsonian

The long-lost manuscript that includes an eyewitness account of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was discovered six years ago

TULSA, Okla. — A 10-page manuscript is now kept safely at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The long-lost manuscript that includes an eyewitness account of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was discovered six years ago.

The author is Buck Colbert Franklin, the father of esteemed historian John Hope Franklin. In 1921, B.C. Franklin was an attorney in a law firm on Tulsa’s Black Wall Street. During the massacre, Franklin’s law firm burned to the ground, as did hundreds of other businesses that were torched by a white mob. After the massacre, the city of Tulsa passed laws that made it harder for black business owners and homeowners to rebuild.

Franklin and other lawyers then turned a tent into an office. His law firm defeated those new laws in court, which in turn, was crucial to helping the greenwood community rebuild.

A decade after the massacre, Franklin wrote the manuscript. It starts in 1917 after world war one, picks up in the 1921, when the massacre happened and then again in 1931, 10 years later.

In the manuscript, Franklin tells of his encounters with a black veteran, named Mr. Ross. The narrative ends by telling how Ross’s life had been destroyed by the massacre.