American Sociological Association

Official Frames and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921: The Struggle for Reparations

Movements that seek reparations against racial injustices must confront historic narratives of events and patterns of repression. These injustices are often legitimated through official narratives that discredit and vilify racial groups. This paper analyzes elite official frames in the case of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, in which an economically thriving African American neighborhood was destroyed. Our research examines the official frames that were promulgated by white elites in defending the violent repression and analyzes the ongoing efforts by reparations proponents to seek redress. We delineate the discursive mechanisms used by proponents to challenge the dominant white narrative of the riot and to campaign for reparations. We conclude by discussing the implications of our research for future research on racial injustices and reparations movements.


Chris M. Messer





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