There is a grassroots effort out of Tulsa to turn Black Wall Street, the site of one of the worst race riots in American history, into a national monument. For a city that isn’t always real great about wanting to remember the awfulness of its past, this is a good sign. It also really helps when creating new National Park Service sites to have demonstrated local support. The U.S. does a better job than any other nation in the world than commemorating its bottom-up social history. This does tend to reflect organized groups committed to seeing it through, which is one reason why the nation does a much better job protecting sites of Black history than it does of Asian or Latino or Native (non-massacre or archaeology sites at least) history. Simply put, there’s a lot of commitment in the Black community to this.
What we don’t have yet is any sites commemorating our horrible history of race riots. Tulsa, again, is probably the most famous, but it’s not the only one that is likely to become a NPS site sooner rather than later. People in Springfield, Illinois have worked hard to get their 1908 race riot memorialized in this way. It’s probably going to happen.
have a chapter out in a new book on public commemorations of labor history sites. In it, one point I make is that sometimes this happens because even conservative politicians can get on board with something that generates economic growth, while not actually doing anything to help minority populations today. This has mattered with some of the civil rights history national parks in states such as Mississippi and Alabama.