Readers weighed in on whether reparations should be paid to Tulsa Race Massacre survivors

The Public Square is a Viewpoints feature that seeks engagement from readers to questions on various issues of the day. Follow The Oklahoman on Facebook and on Twitter @TheOklahoman_ for weekly prompts for The Public Square.

We asked readers whether reparations should be paid to the three survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre and what they thought about reparations.

Here are some of their responses:

While I do not discount the horror of the Tulsa massacre, I also believe that those who perpetuated the ghastly evil were a small percentage of demented individuals and not the vast majority of people at that time. I abhor what they did but that was then and this is now. Making people today pay for that act of subhuman depravity will not clear the air. It is apparent that liberals think money is the solution to resolve every detestable act that has occurred both past and present. And in this case, an act that happened decades ago when the majority of us weren’t even born. So, I am not for paying reparations because I think it will cause a further divide. And, It is ethically and morally wrong to make people pay for something that they had nothing to do with or condone.

— Dave Osborn, Yukon

Throughout history people have suffered cruelty at the hands of others. I arrived in Oklahoma as a member of the Air Force 50 years ago. I’d never heard about Tulsa Massacre until a couple of years ago. Many of us consider our self to be Oklahomans by choice not by birth. I’m sorry the Massacre happened but for the three survivors to be awarded reparations would be an injustice to current Oklahomans. Most Oklahomans were not alive when the event happened and probably 95 percent had no family involved in the debacle. I am sorry the event happened but believe no reparations are in order after a hundred years. 

— Charles Vassel, Midwest City

NO, I do not believe reparations should be given to the three survivors of the Tulsa massacre. No reparations should be given to any people, anywhere in the country. If any reparations are discussed, it should be for the Native Americans of this country who had their entire country taken away from them by white and Black people who came to this country. Why should anybody pay for what happened to their ancestors generations ago?

Don Hayes, Oklahoma City

I am a 77-year-old white woman. I fully agree with reparations in general. The Tulsa massacre was only one of many vicious incidents visited upon Black people after the Civil War. Especially those who managed to prosper. I’d like to think that a lot of white people who are against them are just not educated on reconstruction, Jim Crowe, lynchings, etc. Nor are they taking into consideration that African Americans were shut out of the GI bill, VA loans, entrance to higher education and good jobs for 100 years AFTER the Civil War — all the things that white people’s families enjoyed and prospered from. Reparations can take many forms other than handing out checks — low-interest loans, scholarships, etc., but instead, we are going backwards.

— Mary Kirtley, Oklahoma City

“No. Reparations are wrong from any standpoint. The people that would be paying those reparations are the current taxpayers that had absolutely nothing to do with the massacre.”

— Terry Brennan, Piedmont

“I agree with the judge.”

— Bob Bratcher, Norman

“Yes, they should. The Tulsa Massacre was hidden, buried, not taught in schools. It is a horrible event that should be recognized as such. And reparations are owed.”

— Cassi Jensen, Oklahoma City

“No. There is no one alive today that had anything to do with the riot. It’s like trying to sue an innocent person for something that one of their ancestors may have done.”

— Cathy Spears, Tulsa

“Yes I do. They lived through that horrible experience in Oklahoma history. I was not there, but I am so ashamed of the white people back then, and I’m white. We can’t change what happened, but do something for the 3 survivors.”

— Cleta Smith, Purcell

“The three still living deserve to be compensated but the question is how much and where will the money come from?”

— Terry Bruce, Bixby

“Yes, reparations should be issued.”

— Gaylen Simmons, Tulsa

“There is no [one] alive that harmed these people therefore no one is responsible for any wrong that these people may have suffered. It is unfair to expect people that did nothing to these people.”

— Orval Ferguson, Moore

“Absolutely do not believe in reparations! Almost all races and cultures have at sometime or another been mistreated, made into slaves, victims of genocide, or other cruel [acts]. That doesn’t mean they should all be paid the past is the past. If black should get reparations then The Jewish should be paid by the entire world!”

— Victoria Reich, Talala

“Firstly, I am a 65 year old, white man, raised in Oklahoma. I have seen and know first hand my privilege as a white man in Oklahoma and across the USA. What happened during the TULSA RACE RIOT, over 100 years ago, effected the opportunities of those families who lost not only their family members, their community influence, but their future fortunes. The State of Oklahoma should do all possible to identify those families, their living decendants and reward the millions of dollars gained by the white man. I would go as far as tear down the OSU Ext Campus, the freeway built to intentionally further bring down the value of property and rebuild the Greenwood Community. The cost to correct the hate of the past is better for Oklahoma’s future. And will effect how we treat each other.”

— Bobby Chambers, Harrah

“I believe that reparations should be paid. We (country) paid to Japanese reparations why not pay race massacre survivors for the damages that were done to them and their families.”

— R. Jones, Tulsa

“Yes, pay the survivors and yes to reparations.”

— Jimmel Morris, Oklahoma City

“No, reparations should not be paid.”

— Teresa Mixon, Tulsa

“No more than they already have received.”

— David Handy, Broken Arrow

“I think the city of Tulsa violated those people’s civil right and should be held monetarily responsible. I live in OK and have taught this in my classroom. Students are appalled at the lack of leadership in this matter. They are watching their elders and judging us harshly.”

— Melissa Dietz, Norman

“No reparations should be paid. We should not pay for the sins of our ancestors. I am so sick of hearing about the race riots. This is just another way for the democrats to keep the racial pot stirred and continue to destroy our country.”

— Mary Leaver, Tulsa

“Yes. Absolutely. If the event hadn’t happened, then the black community of Tulsa would look drastically different today. The event changed the whole trajectory of the three survivors lives.”

— Hilary Perrh, Tulsa

“I believe that reparations should be paid to the three living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre. This action would be a first step in atoning for an act of state sponsored terrorism by the city of Tulsa, the state of Oklahoma, and the thousands of white citizens who killed hundreds of Black inhabitants of North Tulsa. In addition to the killings, the white mob set fires which destroyed homes and businesses whose owners never received compensation for their material losses. Reparations would represent a small step in providing justice to Black citizens who were victimized by this event.”

— W. Rolla Weber, Norman

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