Friday, June 12, 2020

Whites riot, loot, murder blacks: Tulsa, 1921

Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman (, Black Wall Street; Eds., Wisdom Quarterly
Democracy Now! tells the story of Black Wall St. bombed by US military

As protests against police continue over their killing of blacks today (such as Terence Crutcher, Trevon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, etc. ad nauseum), Democracy Now! looks at "The Night Tulsa Burned" by the History Channel.

It is the hidden history of Tulsa, Oklahoma's white-against-black race massacre. It was May 31-June 1, 1921 when a giant white mob -- stirred up by the local paper -- killed an estimated 300 blacks. Their corpses were hidden and are still being dug up in forensic excavations. After a young black shoe shiner Diamond Dick Rowland, 19, stepped on the toe of his young white co-worker, a female elevator operator Sarah Page, 17, he was accused of assaulting her.

She was not interested in pressing charges, but an editorial called for a lynching. Over two days infuriated white mobs set fire to black businesses, homes, and Christian churches in Greenwood, a thriving black business district known at the time as the "Black Wall Street" of America. Local white police distributed guns and passed them out to whites, handing out ribbons as if to deputize them, and ordering them to "Get you a ]n-word]."

The U.S. Army joined the pogrom and massacre, bombing Black Wall Street from the air with barrel bombs and other incendiary devices. When the smoke cleared, the black area lay in ruins. Many blacks left to never return. The white National Guard rounded up thousands of others and detained them at various locations around the city.

DN! speaks with author and attorney Hannibal B. Johnson (, who examines this history in his book, Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District.

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