POSTED ON FEBRUARY 23, 2011:
A new survey probes the modern impact of Tulsa's historic riot
Officials at the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation are encouraging Tulsans to complete a race relations and history survey that will be used to compile a report later this year on how residents view the 1921 race riot and how it continues to affect race relations to this day.
Karen Davis, a member of the John Hope Franklin Center's board of directors, said 1,530 surveys had been completed by Feb. 18, and officials were hoping to have 2,500 done by the deadline at the end of March. The survey, which was developed with the help of the University of Oklahoma's Center for Applied Research for Non-profit Organizations, has been circulated since the middle of January.
The survey -- which takes between five and 10 minutes to complete -- consists of 46 questions, most of which are multiple choice, though there is a handful of open-ended questions. The questions probe a respondent's knowledge of the riot, his or her relationships with people of different races and the respondent's attitudes toward race relations in Tulsa in general.
Davis said preliminary information developed from the surveys completed thus far indicates that a good number of African Americans, American Indians and Caucasians have responded. But she said more input is needed from the Hispanic community and young people.
She said organizers are hoping to attract more Hispanic respondents by translating the survey to Spanish soon.
Though the survey focuses on the 1921 riot that resulted in the destruction of much of Tulsa's African American community of Greenwood, Davis said John Hope Franklin Center officials hope to use the results to promote reconciliation across all racial and cultural lines.
"We want to broaden that definition to include all groups," she said.
In April, researchers at OU-Tulsa and Oklahoma State University-Tulsa will take the data and analyze different parts of it, Davis said. A report encompassing all aspects of the report will be presented at the center's annual conference, "Hope and Healing: Black, White and Native American," to be held at locations throughout downtown June 1-3.
The information gathered in the surveys also will be used to inform the exhibits planned for the John Hope Franklin Center when a permanent home for the organization is built, Davis said.
Though it has been nearly a century since the riot took place, Davis acknowledged many Tulsans were still reluctant to discuss it. That has presented something of an obstacle to generating more response to the survey, she said.
At the same time, the response from other areas of the community has been very encouraging.
"It's been surprising in many areas, in terms of the people who are engaged and want to talk about it, and those who are like, 'Why talk about it?'" she said.
Davis encouraged anyone who has not yet taken the survey to do so. Responses will be accepted through March 31.
"It will certainly help the Center for Reconciliation develop programs that will improve relationships between the many cultures and races in the Tulsa area," she said. "And I think it will be interesting for people themselves to find out how they perceive the race riot in Tulsa."
The survey can be taken online at jhfcenter.org. A paper copy can be obtained by calling Jean Neal at 918-295-5009.
"I think it's going to be very beneficial and insightful for Tulsa," Davis said.
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