Holland Hall Hosts Author Hannibal Johnson and Upper School Students Join Booker T. Washington for The Race Riot Suite Performance


Feb 05, 2013

On Friday, February 8th, students from Holland Hall joined students from Booker T. Washington for a performance of The Race Riot Suite, by Tulsa’s own Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (JFJO).  The assembly occurred at 9:35 a.m. in the Ellis Walker Woods Auditorium on the Booker T. Washington High School campus.  Following the performance by JFJO, students engaged in open dialogue about the topics they had been studying at their respective schools regarding this unique time in Tulsa history.  This project was one of many that occurred during Booker T. Washington’s celebration of Black History Month. 

Debuted in May, 2011, The Race Riot Suite, found JFJO reaching into a particularly tragic and shameful part of Tulsa’s own hometown history. Written, arranged and orchestrated by steel guitarist Chris Combs, the album is a long-form conceptual piece that tells the devastating story of the 1921 Tulsa race riot and pays tribute to Tulsa’s Greenwood community that was destroyed during the riot.

Participating from Holland Hall was the entire 11th grade class of students, all of whom are enrolled in American Studies.  As part of a broader thematic unit about the American Dream and opportunity in America, these students had been examining Tulsa’s current identity regarding justice and democracy.  For this particular collaboration, Holland Hall students had been reading Black Wall Street, by noted Tulsa author and attorney, Hannibal B. Johnson.  They had been examining the arguments for and against reparations for slavery and the race riots, and had been considering the findings and recommendations for the 2011 Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot.  Mr. Johnson came to the Holland Hall campus and spoke to the entire Upper School about these issues on Wednesday, February 7th.

The opportunity for these two schools to partner for this performance was provided by the Harwelden Institute for Arts in Education.  Through a summer session for classroom teachers, Harwelden provides instruction on how to integrate arts into the core classroom curriculum.  Harwelden’s hands-on workshops and professional artists encourage teachers to create and experience art in new ways.

To find out more about The Race Riot Suite and Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, please visit jfjo.com. 

To find out more about Black Wall Street and Hannibal B. Johnson, please visit www.hannibalbjohnson.com.