Tom Hanks Is ‘Angry’ He Only Learned About The Tulsa Massacre Two Years Ago

Actor Tom Hanks attends the People's Choice Awards 2017 at Microsoft Theater on January 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People’s Choice Awards

Tom Hanks made it clear he’s upset that he only learned about the Tulsa Massacre two years ago, and said he wanted to know who decided to make an “editorial” choice about what was “appropriate” for him to learn in school.

During the 66-year-old actor’s recent appearance on the “Another Act” podcast, Hanks talked about growing up as a child in Oakland, California, as he referenced why he wrote an op-ed last year advocating for the teaching of the race-based massacre for The New York Times. It starts at the 12:31 minute mark.

“I read a New York Times piece on a hundred-year-old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre, and my question was this, ‘What’s the Tulsa Massacre?’” Hanks told the host. “You know, I was taught American history every three years growing up … how is it that it wasn’t until two years ago that I heard about the Tulsa Massacre?”


“How is that possible? … I heard about all kinds of disasters in which people died,” he added. “But I had never heard about this thing that happened in 1921.”

“I tell you, at the age of 10, when I was in fifth grade, living in Oakland, California, that would’ve been a moment of enlightenment for me,” the superstar actor continued. “That would’ve told me something very, very different about the city I lived in. Not just American history or the city of Tulsa.”

Hanks explained how it made him “mad” that somebody had “made an editorial process” about what was and was not “appropriate” for him to learn in school about “our own American history” — and that it took him 54 years to find this out, calling it “not right” and a “disservice” to all of America.

In the NYT piece, the “Cast Away” star talked about how in all his years of studying history in school, he never learned “about how, in 1921, a mob of white people burned down a place called Black Wall Street, killed as many as 300 of its Black citizens and displaced thousands of Black Americans who lived in Tulsa, Okla.”

He also wrote that, “America’s history is messy but knowing that makes us a wiser and stronger people. 1921 is the truth, a portal to our shared, paradoxical history.”

The comment was part of a larger interview about the actor’s current role as Colonel Tom Parker on Baz Luhrmann’s “ELVIS” movie. Parker was Elvis Presley’s manager.

The movie is “Luhrmann’s biopic of Elvis Presley, from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s while maintaining a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker,” a description on IMDb read.

Related: ‘They Didn’t Let Tim Allen’: Tom Hanks Says He Didn’t ‘Understand’ Why Chris Evans Replaced Allen As Buzz For ‘Lightyear’

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