Victor Luckerson in conversation with Ralph Eubanks for Built From the Fire

Tuesday, June 20th: Victor Luckerson in conversation with Ralph Eubanks for Built From the Fire
Tuesday, June 20, 2023 - 5:30pm

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A multigenerational saga of a family and a community in Tulsa’s Greenwood district, known as “Black Wall Street,” that in one century survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, urban renewal, and gentrification

Please help us welcome journalist and author Victor Luckerson and his new book Built from the Fire: The Epic Story of Tulsa's Greenwood District, America's Black Wall StreetVictor will be in conversation with author and UM professor W. Ralph Eubanks Tuesday, June 20th at 5:30 PM at Off Square Books.

About the Book

When Ed Goodwin moved with his parents to Greenwood, Tulsa, in 1914, his family joined a growing community on the cusp of becoming a national center of black life. But, just seven years later, on May 31, 1921, the teenaged Ed hid in a bathtub as a white mob descended on his neighborhood, laying waste to thirty-five blocks and murdering as many as three hundred people. The Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the most brutal acts of racist violence in U.S. history, a ruthless attempt to smother a spark of black independence.

But that was never the whole story of Greenwood. The Goodwins and their neighbors soon rebuilt it into “a Mecca,” in Ed’s words, where nightlife thrived, small businesses flourished, and an underworld economy lived comfortably alongside public storefronts. Prosperity and poverty intermixed, and icons from W.E.B. Du Bois to Muhammad Ali ambled down Greenwood Avenue, alongside maids, doctors, and every occupation in between. Ed grew into a prominent businessman and bought a newspaper called the Oklahoma Eagle to chronicle Greenwood’s resurgence and battles against white bigotry. He and his wife, Jeanne, raised an ambitious family, and their son Jim, an attorney, embodied their hopes for the Civil Rights Movement in his work. But by the 1970s, urban renewal policies had nearly emptied the neighborhood, even as Jim and his neighbors tried to hold on to it. Today, while new high-rises and encroaching gentrification risk wiping out Greenwood’s legacy for good, the family newspaper remains, and Ed’s granddaughter Regina represents the neighborhood in the Oklahoma state legislature, working alongside a new generation of local activists.

In Built from the Fire, journalist Victor Luckerson moves beyond the mythology of Black Wall Street to tell the story of an aspirant black neighborhood that, like so many others, has long been buffeted by racist government policies. Through the eyes of dozens of race massacre survivors and their descendants, Luckerson delivers an honest, moving portrait of this potent national symbol of success and solidarity—and weaves an epic tale about a neighborhood that refused, more than once, to be erased.

About the Author

Victor Luckerson is a journalist and author based in Tulsa who works to bring neglected black history to light. He is a former staff writer at The Ringerand business reporter for Time magazine. His writing and research have appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesWired, and Smithsonian. He was nominated for a National Magazine Award for his reporting in Time on the 1923 Rosewood Massacre. He also manages an email newsletter about underexplored aspects of black history called Run It Back.

About the Host

W. Ralph Eubanks is author of Ever Is a Long Time and The House at the End of the Road. He has also contributed articles and reviews to the Chicago TribunePreservationThe Hedgehog ReviewThe American ScholarTimeThe Wall Street JournalWIREDThe New Yorker, and NPR. He is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship and has been a fellow at the New America Foundation. Eubanks lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and three children, and is currently visiting professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Praise for...

Built from the Fire tells a powerful story of African American resiliency and ‘hopeful anger.’ Of believing so much in the American dream and the promise of this nation despite slavery, despite the betrayal of Reconstruction, despite the terror that obliterated the achievements of multiple generations of black people . . . The scope, the elegance, and the power of Luckerson’s tale is simply breathtaking and empowering.”—Carol Anderson, author of White Rage

“In a kaleidoscope of colorful details and moving moments, journalist Victor Luckerson profiles the people who built ‘Black Wall Street’ and then lost nearly all to a violent, racially motivated attack. Built from the Fire is a sensitively rendered account of a family and community that persists.”—Tiya Miles, National Book Award–winning author of All That She Carried

“By burrowing deep into the stalwart Goodwin family—survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre—Victor Luckerson has produced a dynamic, and propulsive chronicle of that episode in American history. Given the tenor of our present times, this is truly a necessary book—and one that marks the exciting arrival of a new literary talent.”—Wil Haygood, author of Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World

Event address: 
129 Courthouse Square
Oxford, MS 38655
Books: 
Built from the Fire: The Epic Story of Tulsa's Greenwood District, America's Black Wall Street By Victor Luckerson Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780593134375
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - May 23rd, 2023

A multigenerational saga of a family and a community in Tulsa’s Greenwood district, known as “Black Wall Street,” that in one century survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, urban renewal, and gentrification


Staff Pick Badge
A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey Through a Real and Imagined Literary Landscape By W. Ralph Eubanks Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781604699586
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Timber Press - March 16th, 2021

“This is the book all of us Mississippi writers, dead and alive, need to read.