Tulsa Race Massacre Exhibition Using AI Of Survivors Opens At The Gilcrease Museum

June 5, 2021

The Black Wall Street Legacy Festival (Legacy Fest) is pleased to announce a state-of-the-art, interactive installation

 that will preserve the stories and experiences of survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

In partnership with the Terence Crutcher FoundationGilcrease Museum, and StoryFile, Legacy Fest will feature “The Legacy of Survival” exhibit that utilizes interactive conversational videos of Viola “Mother” Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, to ensure their stories remain a part of history and will continue to inform and inspire current and future generations and in perpetuity.

The exhibit opened for a private viewing for the survivors and press on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

While survivors will not be available for interviews, the press will have an exclusive viewing of the exhibit, be able to watch the survivors’ first-time reactions to the installation, and interview representatives of the host organizations.

The exhibit opened to the public at Gilcrease Museum on Friday, May 28, and continues through Sunday, July 4, 2021. Museum hours are 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and Noon – 8:00 p.m. on Thursday. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

StoryFile posters featuring the survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre and using the artificial intelligence technology through QR codes will allow people to have conversations with Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher’s StoryFiles anytime, anywhere.

These posters will also be located at the following pop-up sites across Tulsa:

  • The Black Wall Street Times, 217 E. Archer St.
  • Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N Greenwood Ave
  • The Gathering Place, 2650 S John Williams Way East
  • The Philbrook Museum, 2727 S Rockford Rd
  • The Fulton Street Coffee & Books, 210 W Latimer St

StoryFile uses artificial intelligence technology to create life-sized interactive conversational videos of both Mother Fletcher and Mother Randle, two of the last-known living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. With their proprietary technology, StoryFile combines state-of-the-art video and volumetrics functionality with conversational artificial intelligence into a seamless, interactive, timeless experience meaning guests can virtually talk with the survivors, ask them questions, and hear directly from them about their personal experiences.

In addition to the StoryFile installation, the Gilcrease Museum exhibit will also include archives and soil collections from “In Remembrance: Lynching in America: The Tulsa Community Remembrance Project” presented by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition.

Between the end of the Civil War and the end of World War II, thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United States in violent and public acts of torture that traumatized black communities locally and throughout the country.

This exhibit will display the jars of soil collected from every lynching site in Tulsa, Oklahoma as an act of remembrance and commitment to honoring the victims of the horrific era of terror.

EJI’s soil collection project is intended to provide tangible opportunities to deepen the local understanding of the community’s history of racial injustice and lynching.

The Black Wall Street Legacy Festival is the only community-led series that centers the survivors and descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre and is dedicated to preserving their stories.

The Festival is headlined by the last known massacre survivors— 106-year-old Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, 107-year-old Viola “Mother” Fletcher, and 100-year-old Hughes Van Ellis— who will lead a procession and participate in an event honoring their legacy and continued fight for justice and accountability.

Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Founder & Executive Director of the Terence Crutcher Foundation and Lead Organizer of the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival said: “Every day that we have with the survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre is a treasured gift. Mother Fletcher and Mother Randle have so much wisdom, grit, and grace to teach all of us and I couldn’t be more relieved that we can preserve their voices, stories, and legacies for future generations.”

“We are thrilled to host this installation at Gilcrease and honored to ensure the stories of Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher will be protected and treasured,” said Gilcrease Museum Executive Director Susan Neal. “They both are beacons of light who continue to inspire all of us with their determination and strength.”

Heather Smith, CEO and Co-Founder of StoryFile said: Both Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher, as are all the other StoryFiles that document our narratives and stories, are part of the fabric of our history. We want and need to give these voices platforms to keep these stories alive in perpetuity. This is StoryFile’s mission – to keep these stories alive forever, and create the opportunity for more human connections across time and space.”

Hosted by survivors and descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre and helmed by organizations based in the affected community, the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival seeks to elevate and amplify the hard work and voices of Black Tulsans over the last 100 years by offering opportunities to reflect, learn, and inspire through community-curated experiences.

National partners include Human Rights Watch, the Equal Justice Initiative, FWD.us, The Who We Are Project, and more. Please visit blackwallstreetlegacyfest.com for additional information.

StoryFile LLC was founded in 2017 in Los Angeles by Heather Smith, Sam Gustman, Stephen Smith, and Ceci Chan. StoryFile uses AI, AR, VR, and its proprietary innovative technology to create and inspire human connections across generations to connect the past, present, and future.

StoryFile developed the world’s first conversational video interactive platform that gives the storyteller the opportunity to tell their narrative and experiences in their own words.

The spark of human connection that emanates from this technology is unprecedented, because never before has technology allowed for real time video interactions with pre-recorded interviews. StoryFile has achieved the previously thought-of impossible by taking 2D video and transforming it into a 3D experience for all stakeholders.

StoryFile’s technology platform is transforming how we record and tell our stories for generations to come, ensuring the future can forever interact with and learn from the past. What fuels the company is the very thing that keeps humanity motivated – creating connections that span lifetimes and geographies.

Today, the company has over 20 employees worldwide, supported by a Board of Directors and Advisory Board with experience across various industries spanning technology, genealogy, media, and entertainment. StoryFile continues to push to new frontiers with the development of its own IP, 3 patents, and volumetric capture technologies.

The Terence Crutcher Foundation seeks to engage the community, law enforcement, and policymakers in creating and sustaining an approach to prevent, identify and address issues of inequity pertaining to minority communities in Tulsa, Oklahoma and around the country.

The Terence Crutcher Foundation is committed to empowering, developing programs, and raising awareness regarding issues that impact at-risk, disenfranchised people of color with an emphasis on African-American males and youth.

The Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, commonly known as Gilcrease Museum, has a collection of American art, archive, and anthropology collections as deep and broad as the American experience, including an unparalleled collection of Native American art and material culture.

The Helmerich Center for American Research on the museum’s campus houses a rare and important archival collection that Thomas Gilcrease amassed.

Through its collection, Gilcrease Museum is dedicated to service through bringing art, history and people together to research, discover, enjoy and understand the diverse heritage of the Americas.

Additionally, the museum is embarking on an $83 million construction project as a result of the 2016 Vision Tulsa package.

This historic project will result in a dynamic new facility for the  museum, making it a premier destination and tourist attraction.

The museum is owned by the City of Tulsa, which has partnered with The University of Tulsa to steward the museum.

To learn more and view the current exhibition schedule, please visit gilcrease.org.

Photo credit: Tulsa doc image.

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