Teach the Whole Story

I write to thank Rev. Mark S. Richards for his letter “CRT Is Not Racism” (Oct. 22, 2021, issue). It caused me to reflect on some family history. His point was that history is usually written from the perspective of the majority. That is changing as more minority authors represent their culture’s contribution to the American experience and offer correction to what has often been a one-sided view. 

I attended public schools through college in Oklahoma. Not once was the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre mentioned. Friends report the same experience.

The story is that a young Black man bumped into a female elevator operator. A false newspaper headline enflamed anger. White American mobs, some deputized and given weapons, attacked Blacks in the middle-class residential and business neighborhood of Greenwood, burning homes and businesses. As many as 300 Blacks were killed, and many were secretly buried in mass graves. People were shot and beaten, and bombs were dropped from airplanes. 

It was one of the most significant events in Tulsa history. I learned late in life that my grandfather employed a Black man and safely sheltered him in the business storage room for three nights.

Critical Race Theory prepares educators to teach history that includes the experience of minorities – nothing more. 

At grade schools across Oklahoma, kids on playgrounds reenacted the 1889 Land Rush into unassigned land in Indian Territory. We staked our claim, registered it at the land office and put up a tent. In high school, my Native American friends told me their people’s painful history of relocations, assignment of Tulsa-area land, and how white people then stole the land when oil was discovered.

Admitting racism is painful. Calling CRT racism, or wanting to shield students from painful history is a desperate attempt to protect the status quo. Let students learn a broad understanding of history. They deserve the truth.

Rev. Mike Eischen

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin