By Jackie Hampton,
The Underground Railroad Re-Run, Inc. (UGRRR) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and re-educate the world regarding the resilient history of African Americans by retracing tragedies and massacres such as the “Underground Railroad” which abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman treaded to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom in the North.
UGRRR members often travel by motorcycle to areas throughout the country that exposes participants to sites where significant liberating events occurred during and after slavery. Such was the case May 30, 2021.
There were fifteen (15) riders that left Jackson, eighteen (18) left Atlanta and one (1) left Huntsville, Alabama; all joining the long ride to Tulsa, Oklahoma where the most heinous cold blooded massacre of black people in the history of the United States of America occurred. The victims had built a bustling robust city within the Greenwood District of Tulsa and because of their amazing success, it became referred to as “Black Wall Street.”
Walt Gardener, president of the UGRRR said while visiting the100 year’s commemoration of Black Wall Street, it was not easy to describe the emotions everyone felt as they walked through much of the old “Greenwood” District.
He said, “For me, it started with a “heaviness” within my heart and soul that initially caused tears to well-up in my eyes.”
A few others expressed similar emotions. “One lady rider from Atlanta literally wept openly and unashamedly,” he said. “All of us respected her space and emotions. We knew how she felt. There was so much to see and yet so much that could not be seen. It had been totally destroyed,” said Gardner.
In the Greenwood District there were numerous successful businesses, such as theaters, pharmacies, hotels, restaurants, dental and medical facilities and so much more. It was a self-sufficient city with estimated 10,000 black residents enjoying a middle to upper income life style.
Gardner had obviously researched this horrendous massacre quite thoroughly and believed the true cause of the riot by whites occurred due to envy and jealousy of those whites who were determined to derail the growth and development of a real economic foundation for people of African descent.
Just as others have similarly expressed, since learning the history of the Tulsa massacre, Gardner said, “Even though there were so many assets and so much of value destroyed, the greatest loss was the lives of an estimated 300 or more men, women and children and the loss of the future that those that survived could have had.”
He was speaking of the education they could have acquired, resulting in significant contributions they could have made to their city, state, nation and even the world. “But we will never know what could have been. An evil mod saw to that,” he shared.
Underground Railroad Re-Run is a 501-c3 organization. An equally significant part of it’s’ mission includes providing scholarships to deserving students of African-American ancestry. Founded in the 4th quarter of 2016 and having completed the first run in June 2017, they presented their first scholarship in 2018 and have continued to do so yearly.
UGRRR will select their 2021 scholarship winner(s) this September. Students interested in applying for the scholarship should visit their website at www.ugrrrr.org.