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Tulsa Race Massacre ‘Remember & Rise’ event canceled

“The Centennial Commission is unable to fulfill our high expectations for Monday afternoon’s commemoration event and has determined not to move forward with the event at this time,” a statement from organizers read.

John Legend, Stacey Abrams Getty

The “Remember & Rise” event scheduled to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre has been canceled. Organizers issued a statement on Thursday citing “unexpected circumstances with entertainers and speakers.”

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission enlisted voting rights activist Stacey Abrams to deliver the keynote address, Grammy award winning artist John Legend to perform, and actor/author Hill Harper to host. It was scheduled to be televised nationwide and nearly 6,000 people were confirmed to attend the event at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, according to The Oklahoman.

“The Centennial Commission is unable to fulfill our high expectations for Monday afternoon’s commemoration event and has determined not to move forward with the event at this time,” the statement from organizers said. “We have hopes to reschedule later in this 100th commemorative year. We apologize for the disappointment and any inconvenience caused to ticketholders; if rescheduled ticketholders will be notified first.”

CBS News reports the reason why “Remember & Rise” was canceled is due to disputes between a lawyer representing the survivors and their heirs and the Centennial Commision. The three living survivors of the massacre — who are 107, 106 and 100 years old — made financial requests that the organizing commission deemed unreasonable.

In a letter obtained by CBS, the survivor’s lawyer, Demario Solomon-Simmons, accused the chair of the commission of attacking “the credibility and integrity of our survivors.” Solomon-Samuels listed some of the requests that were not able to be met. The first was $1 million per survivor, which Solomon-Samuels described as a “priority for us.” The second request was a $50 million pledge to “our Survivor and Descendant fund.” “We will not agree with any other entity housing our fund,” he said. “This is non-negotiable. It is important to us and our community that our fund be housed at a Black bank.”

The chair of the Centennial Commission, Oklahoma State Senator Kevin Matthews, revealed at a press conference Friday (May 28) that organizers initially agreed to pay $100,000 per living survivor to attend the event. Matthews also mentioned a pledge of $2 million would be going towards a reparations fund discussed with the attorney.

“We raised the money, and we were excited that survivors were going to accept these gifts,” Matthews said according to CBS Tulsa affiliate KOTV. “Unfortunately, on Sunday, May 23, they reached out to increase the amount of the $100,000 per survivor gift to $1 million. And instead of $2 million, they asked for $50 million — $50 million in seed money. We could not respond to those demands.”

“So, to be clear, I absolutely want the survivors, the descendants and others that were affected to be financially and emotionally supported,” Matthews continued. “However, this is not the way, no matter how hard we try. We do have the funds, and if the legal team doesn’t bar us from it again, we will be providing those funds directly to the survivors.

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