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New Curriculum Will Teach History of Tulsa Race Riots

Tulsa Historial Society and Museum
The curriculum on the Tulsa Race Riot includes discussions on articles, video clips and photos, including this one of the flourishing Greenwood District before the riot.

The Tulsa Race Riots lasted two days. Thirty-five blocks of black neighborhoods were destroyed and at least 39 people died. Historians now agree it was among the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. However, state Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, says many Oklahoma teachers often brush over the topic, or teach it incorrectly. He hopes a new Tulsa Race Riot curriculum can change that.

“It has been a dirty secret that we haven’t pushed,” he said Tuesday, unveiling the program at  Frederick Douglass Mid-High in Oklahoma City. “It’s time for us to look at the past, and change the future.”

The curriculum includes a set of books, websites, photos and activities that teachers can accessonline. There are various lessons tailored to different grade levels, and teachers can choose from a one-day syllabus, or something that can be spread over five days.

Matthews worked with history teachers, local librarians, African American historians and Republican U.S. Sen. James Lankford to create the curriculum. The Race Riot lessons are not mandatory. Matthews says they’re simply a way for teachers to easily access accurate material if they want it.

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In graduate school at the University of Montana, Emily Wendler focused on Environmental Science and Natural Resource reporting with an emphasis on agriculture. About halfway through her Master’s program a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love. She has since reported for KBGA, the University of Montana’s college radio station and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio. She is very excited to be working in Oklahoma City, and you can hear her work on all things from education to agriculture right here on KOSU.
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