100 years ago, Tulsa’s thriving ‘Black Wall Street’ — Burned Down by a White Mob

Almost 100 years ago, in a small town office building, a man named Dick Rowland tripped on his way into an elevator. The car hadn’t stopped properly, and Rowland hadn’t noticed, catching his foot on the uneven ledge. As he fell, he reached out, looking for something to stop him. That something turned out to be someone — Sarah Page, the young elevator operator, who naturally screamed as a man fell on top of her.

In another place, at another time, between anyone else, the incident may have gone unnoticed. But the place was Greenwood, Oklahoma — then known as “Black Wall Street.” The time was 1921. And Dick Rowland was a black man. To make matters worse, Sarah Page was a white woman.

The immediate response was typical of the time and place. The local newspaper called for Dick Rowland’s lynching. Local white citizens obliged…”as the most brutal and destructive race riot in history unfolded, in one of the most prominent black neighborhoods”.

Over the course of 12 hours, a white mob, joined by more rioters, collectively burned down almost all of Black Wall Street. They looted businesses, shot and attacked black residents, and left the town in ruins…

According to initial reports, more than 800 people were injured, and roughly 35 had died. More recently, in 2001, an investigation by the Tulsa Race Riot Commission claimed the death toll was closer to 300…

10,000 black residents had been left homeless, and over 6,000 were held by the National Guard, some for as long as eight days.

The racist history of America from slavery times to today is never a surprise to anyone of conscience and education. That leaves a lot of folks who might wish to take a step back from what they think they know of American history.

Please read this one.

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