In recognition of the centennial remembrance of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation chose Tulsa as the host city for it’s virtual 2021 Network for School Improvement Community of Practice Convening, offering an opportunity to highlight the city and the work ImpactTulsa, Tulsa Public Schools, and City Year are doing in the community.
All attendees of the virtual conference, which took place May 26-28, received a package of items from Tulsa businesses to prepare them for the summit and give them a taste of Tulsa prior to the event, including information on the city and items from local businesses such as Fulton Street Books & Coffee and Topeca Coffee Roasters, among others.
The multi-day summit focused on specific lessons from Gates Foundation staff and programs, but opened each day with information on Tulsa and features from Tulsa musicians and speakers.
ImpactTulsa Executive Director Carlisha Bradley opened the session on the second day, which focused on how to leverage data, by highlighting individuals such as Onikah Asamoa-Caesar and Dr. Stevie Johnson who are making a difference in Tulsa (at Fulton Street Books & Coffee and Fire in Little Africa, respectively) and providing a vision for what Tulsa can look like moving forward, while also recognizing the lessons that must be taken from the city’s past transgressions.
“I am inspired and hopeful about what is to come,” Bradley said. “We also know that a critical component for moving the needle forward toward an equitable future is confronting our past.”
Bradley’s presentation concluded with her introducing a video on Tulsa’s Race Massacre Centennial remembrances.
“I’m reminded of a quote from ‘Rolling Stone’ that talked about the first single from ‘Fire in Little Africa,’ ‘Shining.’ They said, ‘In a country so hatefully opposed to the existence of some of its citizens, shining can be a revolutionary act.'” Bradley said. “In Tulsa, we shine. We honor. We fight. We build. We educate. We reimagine. WE are Tulsa.”
After the video, which moved many attendees to tears, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist spoke live to the participants about the work the district has embarked on to create opportunity and educational resources for teachers and community members to share information with students.
This opportunity was just one of the many ways ImpactTulsa is working to bring acknowledgement and recognition to the city in the year of it’s centennial remembrance and beyond.
For more information on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, please click here.