Across the Tracks: Remember Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre

By Alverne Ball

& Stacey Robinson

  • Abrams Comic Arts - Megascope Imprint, 2021
  • Lexile: NA
  • Suggested Age Range: 8–14
  • Pages: 64

CITATION: Ball, Alverne & Stacey Robinson. Across the Tracks: Remember Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre. Abrams Comic Arts - Megascope Imprint, 2021.

This graphic novel starts by acknowledging the tribes that occupied what is now Tulsa, Oklahoma. It quickly segues to the lands’ purchase and settlement by O.W. and Emma Gurley.

The book proceeds to describe businesses that were established in the early days of the Greenwood district and provides short bios of entrepreneurs who invested in the community. It mentions the founding of Dunbar Elementary School and Booker T. Washington High School as well as many other establishments.

The book spends approximately twelve pages describing the events of The Tulsa Race Massacre, something that is followed by info about the Red Cross Relief efforts. It is one of the only children’s sources that describes B.C. Franklin’s successful legal challenge on the city’s ordinance that new buildings be fireproof. It further provides information on many of the other injustices that followed the massacre, including the fact that no insurance companies paid out on black property owners’ claims.

At the book’s end is an essay by Reynaldo Anderson and Colette Yellow Robe called “Finding our Fathers’ Gardens.” It places the conflict found in The Tulsa Race Massacre in the midst of a larger conversation about systemic racism against people of African descent as well as American Indians. It would be worth reading and discussing with older elementary and middle school students in order to show that the violence experienced in Tulsa’s Greenwood didn’t just start in an elevator but rather was grounded in a much larger context of abuse. It also deals with the complexities of Tribes owning slaves and siding with the confederacy during the Civil War.

One slight correction – this book mentions the Greenwood Community Center. This reference should read Greenwood Cultural Center.