Dr. Kerr confronts Tulsa's civic
leadership with their own
evil to demand full compensation for wrongful deaths and
property damage in Greenwood during so-called 'Tulsa
Kerr's surprise resignation as Pastor to a private meeting of
the Session freed him to undertake one final action which his
Scots Presbyterian conscience demanded
leaving Tulsa …
as he now had nothing
to loose :
Kerr's conclusion was that the Tulsa Public Authorities and the
combined elite of Tulsa's super-wealthy
and civic establishment bore clear moral
for the 1921 Tulsa Race War
if they were successful in evading their legal
on the basis of the City's official
lie of a
Kerr's concern was the moral
city’s racial crimes in which Tulsa’s most upstanding
citizens were willing participants :
Direct violation by the City Government and all of
Tulsa’s oil magnates, prominent businessmen, and civic leaders
of the Commandments, ‘thou shalt not kill,’ ‘thou shalt
not steal’, ‘thou
shalt not bear false witnesses’, ‘thou shalt not covet’
… and the moral
making full restitution for all of these racial crimes in order
to obtain forgiveness
Charles W. Kerr resolved to confront directly the collective
oil, civic, and business leadership and the elected Public
Officials of Tulsa with their own
as would John Knox --
to request them to voluntarily rebuild Greenwood as a
matter of moral justice on
the grounds that the oil-wealthy Tulsa establishment bore
for starting the 1921 Tulsa Race War.
his promise to the Black refugees in his Church, Dr. Charles W. Kerr
-- as the
Pastor of Tulsa’s founding Church and as the senior minister
of Tulsa --
made a private appointment to confront the Mayor and the
Corporation, the oil, business, and civic leaders
collective public and private leadership of Tulsa
-- in the
office of one of his elders
with their moral responsibility for the City's
malicious arson of Greenwood, the City's deliberate
murder of hundreds of friendly Black folks.
civic leaders were big florid rotund men of ‘substance’ and
'civic leadership' was
quite frankly measured in multiples of axe-handles across the
beam and whose ‘community importance’ could be gauged by the
number of glittering fraternal
pins worn on coat lapels.
most civically prominent of such community leaders would wear
their overflow of such pins as ‘keys’ or 'fobs' attached to
heavy gold watch chains looped through vest buttonholes like
suspension bridges across their ample civic prominences.
Such pins, keys, and watch fobs served as their
Congressional Medals of Honour,
Victoria Crosses, or knighthoods in 'solid citizenship'
combined, sometimes even studded with gems
City's biggest men -- the
great oil magnates, bankers, boosters, builders and back
dressing their ample civic prominences
the rears of which each measured no less than
sixteen axe-handles across the beam
… or twenty
for the most 'solid' of all
these 'community- minded' Citizens.
were the type of officiously 'important men' who give each other
knuckle- crunching fraternal
grips in country club lobbies after exchanging lodge passwords
or, who were 'T- Towne' business recruiting speakers on the
Commercial Club's 'Booster Trains'.
These officiously 'civic'
broad-beamed men took themselves all very
and expected everyone else in Tulsa
do the same.
of these 'substantial citizens' belonged to innumerable lodges
and prosperity- boosting lunch clubs in downtown Tulsa where in
sonorous 'T-Towne' Booster rhetoric they proclaimed
'my religion to make Tulsa better for one and all':
What this blow-hard
'booster' oratory really means is to make themselves
richer at the expense of the poor
such the Coloured People in Greenwood arsoned by
Tulsa's City Government, the
white refinery workers across the river paid starvation wages
by the Tulsa's great oil magnates, or the Oklahoma
Indians rampantly swindled out
of their lands, minerals, oil
rights by the
predatory oil industry.
Greenwood business district
'The Black Wall Street':
of City would provide free
to arson its
entire Black District?
Kerr knew them all.
From the top step of the Courthouse Dr. Kerr had seen
them all. As a
Pastor he knew the guilt
of them all. And
from the emptiness of his mourner's bench (where repentant
sinners sit following
an altar call) at
the First Church, Dr.
Kerr knew the unrepentance
of them all --
every last prominent
wealthy one of them for their
crimes in Greenwood.
In the manner of John Knox
confronting iniquity …
with both hands on the silk lapels of his Prince
coat Dr. Kerr confronted the collective leadership of Tulsa like
so many delinquent choir boys declaring,
'Gentlemen, I am here today on a matter of Justice
justice : The
necessity of making good
the damages you inflicted upon the Coloured population of
Greenwood as city policy on
the manufactured pretext of suppressing a totally non-existent
This was fraudulently proclaimed
by the Police as an official lie solely to provide you
gentlemen with a 'bit of sport' in
Greenwood that night and to clear out the Coloured
population of Greenwood for construction of a rail switchyard,
industrial, and warehouse district which you gentlemen have long
desired to build on the site.'
City of Tulsa,' Dr. Kerr declared looking directly at Mayor of
Tulsa, 'owes full and complete financial reparations to the
Coloured population of Greenwood for the wrongful deaths of well
over three hundred harmless Coloured people, the twenty-three arsoned
hundred Greenwood homes, and for the entire
Greenwood business district.''
City Government intentionally
to clear out Blacks for civic
long proposed rail,
¿ Is this
the actions of the State Government in turning command of the
Tulsa State Militia unit over
to the City Authorities
enabled the City Government to arson
the entire Greenwood district, the State Government also has a
moral obligation to contribute to the full compensation for the
property losses and wrongful deaths resulting from the City's
suppression of this fictitious 'Negro Insurrection'."'
hands on his silk coat lapels Dr. Kerr told the assembled civic
leaders, 'Although the lawyers
from my Church tell me that the Courts cannot judicially
fraudulent discretionary judgement
of the existence of a 'Negro Insurrection' made as an official
lie by Tulsa's responsible city officials nor their
to suppress this non-existent 'Negro Insurrection';
I represent a different
Judge who does possess authority to review and to punish
this discriminatory manifest abuse of State Power made by you to
wage a racial war upon the Coloured population of Greenwood.'
Kerr proclaimed, 'The discretionary official
lie by our City Government '
… is a morally deficient
excuse for any Tulsan to deny our collective communal
responsibility as a
guilty white community for these horrible racial crimes
committed in our name by the City of Tulsa.'
the eye of the swollen oil magnates, bankers, and businessmen
who had long coveted the Greenwood district for their own
selfish purposes, Dr. Kerr declared,
'This collective responsibility of the entire community of Tulsa
is greatly compounded by the fact that a number of you gentlemen
present prevailed upon our City Government that night to arson
deliberately large areas of Greenwood to clear out the Coloured
destroy their community, and
to drive our Coloured brothers out of Tulsa
… in order
that you might personally profit by buying the wreckage of
Greenwood at fire sale
prices in order to transform
the entire area into a rail, industrial, and warehouse district
at the expense of the Coloured population'.
Kerr pleaded, 'We are all to blame.
Cain, we are all
personally guilty of the horrendous crimes committed in our name
by the Government of the City of Tulsa against our Coloured
This guilt weighs heavily upon we, the People of Tulsa,
who dare to call ourselves 'Christians'.
These crimes happened in our City and were committed in
our name by our City Government.
Racial outrages against Coloured people
and even the burnings alive of Coloured men
been occurring for years, well before Statehood.
Daily such racial atrocities have been publicised in our
if not actually instigated by publishers of the Ilk of
Richard Lloyd Jones'.
The latter just sneered.
Kerr emphasised to Tulsa's leading citizens,
'None of us spoke up.
By our silence and inaction we have allowed the most
horrible racial atrocities to be inflicted upon our Coloured
brothers. These past
decades of racial crimes were merely a prelude to the horrors
which occurred in this City on the last night of May have this
year. I fault myself
for being too busy promoting the growth of Tulsa and being too
involved in raising funds to build the University of Tulsa
campus to notice the tell-tail signs of this impending tragedy.
We are all to blame
by our participation or
by our silence.'
Greenwood Christian church
by City of Tulsa:
Dr. Kerr was friends
Kerr questioned, 'Can we say these crimes are not our fault? To answer
Cain's evasion, we are our brother's keeper. We
chose to evade our responsibilities to our Coloured brother,
with greater fervour
the Indians' lands,
no resonance amongst Tulsa's stolid Babbitt-like civic
leadership Dr. Kerr proclaimed, 'We cannot find peace with God
unless we confess our collective guilt as an entire community of
white Tulsans to our Greenwood Coloured brothers who are
still suffering at the hands of the City of Tulsa which declared
a public racial war upon them that last day in May.
In the manner of the Prodigal
as a guilty white community we must confess "I have
sinned against God and against the".'
Kerr plead with Tulsa's obtuse civic leadership, 'As a body
politic, we the People of Tulsa must confess that we are guilty
before God and before Man by our individual and collective
participation in these atrocities as well as by our long history
as a guilty white community of failing to practice brotherhood
towards our Greenwood neighbours,
by our silence towards our City's and State's long
history of mistreating Coloured people and Indians,
and by our criminal neglect in years past to take
concrete steps to end such.
We are all to blame, individually and collectively, for
the racial atrocities and terrible
crimes committed against
Coloured people by the People of Tulsa executing the public
policy of the City Government in our name to suppress a
Kerr declared, 'On
our knees before God in repentance the People of Tulsa must ask
our Coloured brothers in Greenwood
in the words of the Lord's Prayer 'to forgive us our trespasses'
so that we may find inner peace from the terrible racial crimes
committed in our name by our City Government. '"
Kerr continued, 'This situation parallels the Prophet Nathan's
confrontation of King David in II Samuel Chapter 12 over the
arranged murder of Uriah the Hittite because David had
adulterously impregnated Uriah's wife Bath Sheba:
Requesting a Judgement from the King, Nathan said unto
King David, "There were two men in one city; the one rich,
and the other poor. The
rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man
had nothing, save one little ewe lamb,
which he had brought and nourished up.' When a traveller
came to visit the rich man, the latter killed and dressed the
poor man's lamb rather than one of his own."'
Kerr pulled out his pocket bible and read, 'Scripture says
"And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and
he said to Nathan, 'As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done
this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb
fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no
significantly around at Tulsa's assembled civic leadership, Dr.
Kerr proclaimed, 'And Nathan said to David,
"Thou are the Man! Wherefore
has thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His
sight? Now therefore
the sword shall never depart from thine house;
because thou hast despised me.
Thus saith the Lord, 'Behold I will raise up evil
against thee out of thine own house'.
For thou didst it secretly:
but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the
because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the
enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born
unto thee shall surely die."'
murder of Blacks by racialist
Kerr confronted Tulsa civic leadership, 'You are the men who
like King David murdered our neighbour in Greenwood because you
coveted our neighbour's entire community for transformation into
a rail switch yard, industrial supply,
and warehouse district for your own profit.
King David was a man after God's own heart.
Yet God punished him with the death of his son by Bath
Sheba. Thou pridest
thyself as "The Oil Capital of the World."
As with King David this will be taken from you and given
a rising voice Dr.
Kerr demanded from Tulsa's 'Magic Empire' civic
avert further punishment
of our city, I
am here to ask you to make voluntarily
the just recompense
Coloured population can not obtain through a court of law
due to the privileged constitutional status of the City's
official lie of a 'Negro Insurrection'
pretext to fulfil the
room to put
on their own fat, Tulsa's oil-rich civic leadership selfishly
refused Dr. Kerr's crie de cour to
compensate the injured Greenwood
Blacks to right this terrible wrong .
years after the Race War the oil-wealthy City of Tulsa and the
local Tulsa establishment of millionaires,
even billionaires adamantly still continues to refuse payment of
the full compensation for wrongful deaths and property damage
originally demanded by Dr. Charles W. Kerr in 1921 on behalf of
the Greenwood Black population.
unarmed Black population of Greenwood was
arsoned by the City Government of Tulsa to suppress a non-existent 'Negro Insurrection'
fabricated by the City Government as an
… to serve
as a contrived pretext to clear out the entire Black district
for the Tulsa civic leadership's long-proposed construction of a
rail switchyard, industrial,
and warehouse district.
Some things never change …Tulsa, Oklahoma, is one of them….