Sometimes it’s hard to know whom to believe: the philanthropist or the preacher, the Good Samaritan or the man of God. Only, in this case, the future of a small Southwestern city—which 100 years ago this week saw the brutal massacre of as many as 300 people—may be at stake.

The philanthropist is George Bruce Kaiser, a native Tulsan, son of Holocaust survivors, and resident billionaire. Before he built his own local socio-political empire around fighting the segregation and inequality that still exists in Tulsa, Kaiser, 78, ran the day-to-day operations of his family’s oil-exploration company, Kaiser-Francis, followed by Bank of Oklahoma, now the state’s largest bank. Kaiser is close friends with Tulsa’s mayor, George Theron (G. T.) Bynum IV, the latest in a long line of oil-baron Tulsans to helm the city.