Approximate age: Middle School – College

Estimated time needed: 30–45 minutes

Possible Readings to Pair with this Exercise:

Chapter 12 from Carlos Moreno’s The Victory of Greenwood on Black Media

Dreamland Burning (Rowan uses The Tulsa Star to find information on Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood that she uses to piece together a crime from the past.)

Items needed:

  • Notebook
  • pencil/pen
  • internet access
  • computers or laptops

*If laptops are limited, students can work in small groups.

What will my students do? As a result of this assignment, students will

  • Access and perform searches on digitized copies of The Tulsa Star
  • Perform original historical research on Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood using The Tulsa Star
  • Discuss their findings with the class

What will my students learn? As a result of this assignment, students will

  • Explore the self sufficiency of Tulsa’s Greenwood community pre 1921 through the lens of a black newspaper
  • Understand the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in the context of the continuum of African American life in Tulsa
  • Document the humanity of the people living in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood pre 1921, their struggles and their triumphs
  • Think about the ways in which different types of news sources offer different perspectives on the world.

Part 1: Share with Students some background info on The Tulsa Star

  • African American newspaper, started in Muskogee in 1912 (under the name The Muskogee Star), and moved to Tulsa in 1913.
  • Chronicled the lives of black Tulsans from 1913 until 1921.
  • Championed black causes.
  • Provides a picture of what life was like in a historic black town.
  • Founded by A.J. Smitherman.

Discussion: Why is it important that it’s called the Tulsa Star and not the Greenwood Star?

(Teacher prompt: We need to see Greenwood as a part of Tulsa, not its own separate thing.)

Part 2: Interactive Activity: Give students the following information How Do I get started?

Step 1: Visit

Step 2: Use the search bar to search for something you might find in a newspaper today. Some examples might be “sale, bank, flowers, restaurant, café, church, death, birth, neighbor”

Step 3: Pull up the first or second newspaper that comes up.

Step 4: Read an article that corresponds with your search. (Read two if you have time!)

Step 5: Write down the year of the article and then 2 things you learned about Tulsa’s Greenwood from reading that article.

Step 6: Be prepared to share your results with the class.

Part 7: Share results with the class.

Part 8: Have a larger discussion with the class.

  • What did you discover about Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood? How is it similar or different from your neighborhood?
  • Who are some people you discovered as a result of your research? Do a google search on them. Does anything else come up about these people?
  • How do you think a black newspaper might have differed from a white newspaper in 1921?
  • How do these stories contribute to a more holistic knowledge of Tulsa’s Greenwood community than simply starting with the violence in 1921?

Part 5: Bonus (if you have extra time!)

Have your students access The Oklahoma Eagle at

What similarities do they see between a black newspaper in 1921 (The Tulsa Star) and The Oklahoma Eagle (which is still operating in Tulsa’s Greenwood district)? Are both newspapers highlighting racial discrimination in a way that white newspapers don’t? How so?

Fact: The Oklahoma Eagle opened shortly after the 1921 Massacre, using the salvaged printing press from The Tulsa Star!