At the recommendation of our collaborative partners at the Equal Justice Initiative and the Georgetown Memory Project, Justice for Greenwood is working with genealogists to research and document the familial lineage between members of the Greenwood Descendant Community and their Ancestor/s who were in Greenwood during the Massacre and/or it’s immediate aftermath (1921-1923). 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Why is this work necessary?

As part of this work, we are creating a record of supporting documentation.
This is necessary for several reasons:

1. To help ensure that there will be no barriers to Descendants gaining the full benefits of any resources that become available as a result of our ongoing fight for reparations for victims and survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre (TRM) and their Descendants.

2. To connect the Greenwood Diaspora—the families that were dispersed and had their ties destroyed as part of the violence and continuing harm of the TRM—for the first time.

3. To protect the credibility, legacy and integrity of members of the Greenwood Descendant community.

4. To counter historical omissions and misrepresentations.

5. No definitive record of Descendants exists and it’s clear that it needs to be created. The government isn’t doing it, we don’t trust them to do it, so we are because it needs to get done.

6. To protect the credibility, legacy, and integrity of the Justice for Greenwood Foundation.

By participating in this process, you are helping us help the Greenwood Diaspora by contributing to the creation of this historical and unprecedented record.  #JusticeForGreenwood

 

Q: How does the Justice for Greenwood Foundation (J4G) define “Descendant?” 

 A: Because of the complex nature of genealogy in particular as it relates to Greenwood Descendants, we define “Descendant” in the following ways: 

  • Greenwood Descendant Community:This is how we refer to Descendants as a group. This includes Self-Identified, Chronicled, and Pending Chronicled Descendants, as well as those who have reached out to us through the hotline/online contact form who are in our network but that the genealogists haven’t gotten to doing the research on yet.  
  • Chronicled Descendants  have familial knowledge of an ancestor who experienced or was directly impacted  by the Tulsa Race Massacre (TRM) and/or its immediate aftermath (1921-1923) that is supported by official government documents (i.e. census records, etc.), credible family, community, scholarly, or business documents  (i.e. Affidavits of Greenwood historians, City of Tulsa Polk city directories, Tulsa Star Newspaper, family bibles, etc.), and/or corroborated by oral history of  known and recognized Greenwood community residents or other recognized experts and/or credible sources as they are identified.   
  • Self-Identified Descendants have familial knowledge of an ancestor who experienced or was directly impacted  by the Tulsa Race Massacre (TRM) and its immediate aftermath. They are Pending  Chronicled Descendants. They are pending upon receipt/discovery of evidence proving their ancestor was a resident of  Greenwood, owned property in Greenwood, was employed by resident or business in Greenwood, and/or was physically in Greenwood at the time of the TRM and its immediate aftermath (1921-1923).    
  • Pending Chronicled Descendants are those members of the Greenwood Descendant community who are Self-Identified Descendants (see above) or who J4G genealogists have been able to confirm that their stated Ancestor was a resident of  Greenwood, owned property in Greenwood, was employed by resident or business in Greenwood,  or was physically in Greenwood at the time of the TRM and/or its immediate aftermath. However, the Descendant still needs to provide us with documents connecting them to their stated Ancestor (i.e. birth/death certificates) before we can move them into the Chronicled Descendant category.  

 

Q: What is Direct and Collateral Descendancy? 

A: Direct Descendancy: one who is in the direct bloodline of an ancestor. For example,  direct descendants include children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.  Chronicled Descendants who are direct descendants of an ancestor will be eligible for any grant monies distributed by the Justice for Greenwood Foundation.  

Collateral Descendancy: one who is not of the direct line of the ancestor, but who is instead related through a collateral line. For example, collaterals include siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, etc. Chronicled Descendants who are collateral descendants of an ancestor are not at this time eligible for grant monies distributed by the Justice for Greenwood Foundation.  

While we are working to document the lineage of all Greenwood Descendants, at this point in time any grant monies distributed by the Justice for Greenwood Foundation will only go to direct Chronicled descendants (ie. Great Grandfather > Grandmother > Mother > Descendant).  

 

Q: What does the Genealogical research process look like for the We Are Greenwood™ Genealogy Project? 

A: It’s complicated, but we’ve broken it down for you below: 

  1. A person either believes or thinks they might be a Greenwood Descendant, so they fill out J4G’s online Genealogy Intake Form and submit supporting documentation (see J4G Resource List for Genealogy Research.docx). 
  2. J4G’s program manager enters the person’s information into our internal system and assigns their case to one of our genealogists.
  3. The genealogists use the information to research the person’s familial connection to Greenwood. First, they must be able to locate the identified Ancestor in Greenwood from 1921-1923, second, they must be able to connect the Ancestor to the Descendant, which is typically done through vital records such as birth and/or death certificates.
  4. The genealogists then create a report of their findings and indicate whether the person is Self-Identified, Chronicled, or a Pending Chronicled Descendant. The Justice for Greenwood Foundation provides the Descendant with a digital copy of the report once it is complete.
  5. If a person is Chronicled, that means 1) The genealogists were able to locate their Ancestor in Greenwood from 1921-1923, and 2) They were able to connect the Ancestor to the Descendant.
  6. If the person is either Self-Identified or Pending Chronicled, they can provide us with more information to help the genealogists in further research. Sometimes it may be difficult to locate an Ancestor in Greenwood from 1921-1923 because of lost records, people not being counted in the census, or for various other reasons many of which resulted from the destruction of the Massacre and the 100+ years of continuing harm that has followed. Because we understand this, we also accept credible family, community, scholarly, or business documents  (i.e. Affidavits of Greenwood historians, City of Tulsa Polk city directories, Tulsa Star Newspaper, family bibles, etc.), and/or oral history of  known and recognized Greenwood community residents or other recognized experts and/or credible sources.  

 

Q: Why is J4G focused on 1921-1923? 

A: Currently, we are focusing on this time period because the Massacre occurred on May 31-June 1 of 1921, with the two years that followed (up to 1923) being a period of continuing devastation during which time those who remained in Greenwood lived in tents (or other temporary substandard housing) and rebuilt on their own dime without government support. Direct Descendants of Ancestors who were in Greenwood, owned property in Greenwood, worked in Greenwood, or lived ign Greenwood during this time (1921-1923) inherited the most direct economic burden and intergenerational trauma, so we have decided to begin with this group of people.  

Because we are a small organization with limited resources, this is our focus for now. However, because we at J4G believe that the continuing harm caused by the Massacre reverberates into the present day, we expect to eventually expand beyond the timeframe of 1921-1923 as our organization continues to grow and we build our capacity. 

 

Q: How can I do my own family research?  

A: A good place to start is on FamilySearch.org, which is free to use once you register. For a cost, you can search for your ancestor by name, place lived, and birth year on Ancestry.com. See the Justice for Greenwood Foundation’s DIY Guide for Genealogy for more helpful information on researching your family. 

 

Q: Is it possible to make genealogical connections if family members’ names are misspelled multiple times in several different ways?  

A:  Absolutely, it’s common for names to be misspelled multiple ways in documents. When conducting your research, the best workaround for this is to search alternate spellings and any other names or alias’ that your ancestor might have been known as. 

Here’s an example: the last name Hanes might have also been spelled Haines or Haynes, so you would want to search for all possibilities.

 

Q: How can I find my Ancestor in Greenwood?  

A:  In addition to searching for your Ancestor’s name on sites like FamilySearch.org and ancestry.com, try searching the 1921 Tulsa City Directory, the Tulsa Race Massacre Report, Alexander v. The State of Oklahoma, Condensed Red Cross Report, Eddie Faye Gates’s book “Riot on Greenwood,” which has the largest collection of survivor interviews to appear in one single volume. 

 

Q: What are some other sources that could be helpful in connecting as well as showing the Ancestor was in Greenwood in 1921? 

A:  The J4G Genealogy Project utilizes vital records in their research (birth, death, marriage certificates) to help connect Descendants to their Greenwood Ancestors. See J4G Resource List for Genealogy Research.docx  for a list of other records that can be useful in conducting genealogical research. 

Our Genealogy Team

 

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