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In 1921, May 31-June 1, Tulsa's historic Greenwood neighborhood, known as the "Black Wall Street," was destroyed by thousands of armed, angry Whites, estimated to have killed between 100-300 Black men, women, and children. To hide the crime, most were buried in unmarked graves. To date, an effort to recover the bodies in order to provide proper burials and identify the remains is ongoing. Although an apology was issued in the 1990s, almost 100 years later, no one has been brought to justice for the massacre, and no recompense given to the survivors or their descendants.
Image from Library of Congress
Dr. Olivia Hooker, the First Black Woman to join the Coast Guard, also a survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. As a little girl, her most searing memory of the massacre was what the mob did to her doll:
"My grandmother had made some beautiful clothes for my doll. It was the first ethnic doll we had ever seen.... She washed them and put them on the line. When the marauders came, the first thing they did was set fire to my doll's clothes. I thought that was dreadful."
George Monroe, a survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, was just 5 years old at the time, however, he remembers hiding under the bed with his 3 siblings before a group of white men entered their home:
"My sister grabbed me and pulled me under there,” he said. “And while I was under the bed, one of the guys come in past me and stepped on my finger. And as I was about to scream, my sister put her hand over my mouth so I couldn’t be heard.”
Websites & Media
Tulsa Historical Society & Museum
The 1921 Attack on Greenwood was one of the most significant events in Tulsa’s history. Following World War I, Tulsa was recognized nationally for its affluent African American community known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding residential area was referred to as “Black Wall Street.” In June 1921, a series of events nearly destroyed the entire Greenwood area.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Massacre was one of the worst urban racial conflicts in United States history. Two days of violence by whites against blacks left an estimated 50 people dead, hundreds injured, and more than 1,000 black-owned homes and businesses destroyed.
The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture
Tulsa Race Massacre
Believed to be the single worst incident of racial violence in American history, the bloody 1921 outbreak in Tulsa has continued to haunt Oklahomans. During the course of eighteen terrible hours on May 31 and June 1, 1921, more than one thousand homes and businesses were destroyed, while credible estimates of deaths range from fifty to three hundred.
1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission
“The projects of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission will educate Oklahomans and Americans about the Race Massacre and its impact on the state and Nation; remember its victims and survivors; and create an environment conducive to fostering sustainable entrepreneurship and heritage tourism within the Greenwood District specifically, and North Tulsa generally.”
Tulsa Objects in the NMAAHC : National Museum of African American History and Culture
"The National Museum of African American History and Culture collects materials to help fill the silences in our nation’s memory around events such as the Tulsa Race Massacre and its reverberations, preserving and sharing wider stories of Black communities in Oklahoma, and centering the testimonies of survivors and their descendants."
Greenwood Cultural Center
The Greenwood Cultural Center is the keeper of the flame for the Black Wall Street era, the events known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, and the astounding resurgence of the Greenwood District in the months and years following the tragedy.
Black Wall Street Gallery
Black Wall Street Gallery is a conduit for establishing better relations by providing a space for artistic expression, conversation, healing and building community.
Black Wall Street : from riot to renaissance in Tulsa's historic Greenwood District by
Call Number: EBSCO eBook Collection ( 3 Copies)
Publication Date: 1998
"The bittersweet story of Tulsa's historic Greenwood District, once considered "The Negro Wall Street," is a tale of tragedy and triumph, oppression and opportunity, despair and dignity. It is a real life human drama, set in a city dubbed the "Oil Capital of the World," starring a cast of African American heroes whose courage, ingenuity, and faith sustained them through life's highest peaks and lowest valleys. It is, above all, a testament to the power of hope and a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. Just how these African American pioneers managed to transform the undeveloped land just north of the Frisco Railroad tracks into a thriving Midwest mecca, revive it from the ruinous Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, and set in motion its current rebirth remains one of the best kept secrets in America."
Up From the Ashes : A Story About Building Community by
Call Number: EBSCO eBook Collection ( 2 Copies)
Publication Date: 1999
What happens when a thriving, bustling community--Tusa's Greenwood District --is burned to the ground due to hatred and prejudice? jimmy, the narrator in this beautifully illustrated book, knows that his community's strength comes from the strength of its people. And the people can rebuild and find renewal. Based on actual events surrounding theTulsa Race Riot of the 1920s, this story gives children a touching perspective on prejudice and its effects on a community.
Reconstructing the Dreamland : The Tulsa Riot of 1921: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation by
Call Number: EBSCO eBook Collection (2 copies)
Publication Date: 2002
The 1921 Tulsa Race Riot was the country's bloodiest civil disturbance of the century. Leaving perhaps 150 dead, 30 city blocks burned to the ground, and more than a thousand families homeless, the riot represented an unprecedented breakdown of the rule of law. It reduced the prosperous black community of Greenwood, Oklahoma to rubble. In Reconstructing the Dreamland, Alfred Brophy draws on his own extensive research into contemporary accounts and court documents to chronicle this devastating riot, showing how and why the rule of law quickly eroded. Brophy offers a gut-wrenching portrait of mob violence and racism run amok,both on the night of the riot and the morning after, when a coordinated sunrise attack, accompanied by airplanes, stormed through Greenwood, torching and looting the community. Equally important, he shows how the city government and police not only permitted the looting, shootings, and burning of Greenwood, but actively participated in it.
Riot and Remembrance : The Tulsa Race War and Its Legacy by
Call Number: EBSCO eBook Collection (1 copy)
Publication Date: 2002
A best-selling author investigates the causes of the twentieth century's deadliest race riot and how its legacy has scarred and shaped a community over the past eight decades. On a warm night in May 1921, thousands of whites, many deputized by the local police, swarmed through the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma, killing scores of blacks, looting, and ultimately burning the neighborhood to the ground. In the aftermath, as many as 300 were dead, and 6,000 Greenwood residents were herded into detention camps. James Hirsch focuses on the de facto apartheid that brought about the Greenwood riot and informed its eighty-year legacy, offering an unprecedented examination of how a calamity spawns bigotry and courage and how it has propelled one community's belated search for justice. RIOT AND REMEMBRANCE shows vividly, chillingly, how the culture of Jim Crow caused not only the grisly incidents of 1921 but also those of Rosewood, Selma, and Watts, as well as less widely known atrocities.
The Color of the Land : Race, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929 by
Call Number: EBook Central (Unlimited Access)
Publication Date: 2010
The Color of the Land brings the histories of Creek Indians, African Americans, and whites in Oklahoma together into one story that explores the way races and nations were made and remade in conflicts over who would own land, who would farm it, and who would rule it. This story disrupts expected narratives of the American past, revealing how identities--race, nation, and class--took new forms in struggles over the creation of different systems of property. Conflicts were unleashed by a series of sweeping changes: the forced "removal" of the Creeks from their homeland to Oklahoma in the 1830s, the transformation of the Creeks' enslaved black population into landed black Creek citizens after the Civil War, the imposition of statehood and private landownership at the turn of the twentieth century, and the entrenchment of a sharecropping economy and white supremacy in the following decades.
Long Overdue : The Politics of Racial Reparations by
Call Number: Ebook Central (Unlimited Access)
Publication Date: 2007
An investigation of America's failure to atone for the wrongs of slavery. Ever since the unfulfilled promise of "forty acres and a mule" after the Civil War, America has consistently failed to compensate Black Americans for the wrongs of slavery. Exploring why America has struggled to confront the issue of racial injustice, Long Overdue provides a history of the racial reparations movement and shows why it is more relevant now than ever. By looking at other dispossessed groups--Native Americans, Holocaust survivors, and Japanese internment victims in the 1940s--Henry shows how some groups have won the fight for reparations, and explores new ways forward for Black Americans. As the issue of reparations is brought to the national stage by figures such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Kamala Harris, Long Overdue provides a must-read survey of the political and legislative efforts made toward reparations over the course of American history, and offers a new path toward establishing equality for all Black Americans.
Changing Minds, If Not Hearts : Political Remedies for Racial Conflict by
Call Number: Ebook Central (Unlimited Access)
Publication Date: 2013
Americans preach egalitarianism, but democracy makes it hard for minorities to win. Changing Minds, If Not Hearts explores political strategies that counteract the impulse of racial majorities to think about racial issues as a zero-sum game, in which a win for one group means a loss for another. James M. Glaser and Timothy J. Ryan argue that, although political processes often inflame racial tensions, the tools of politics also can alleviate conflict. The authors examine whether communities rife with conflict endorse different outcomes when issues are cast in different terms--for example, by calling attention to double standards, evoking alternate conceptions of fairness and justice, or restructuring electoral choices to offer voters greater control. Their studies identify a host of tools that can help overcome opposition to minority interests that are due to racial hostility.
The Burning : The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 by
Publication Date: 2013
On the morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob numbering in the thousands marched across the railroad tracks dividing black from white in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and obliterated a black community then celebrated as one of America's most prosperous. 34 square blocks of Tulsa's Greenwood community, known then as the Negro Wall Street of America, were reduced to smoldering rubble. With chilling details, humanity, and the narrative thrust of compelling fiction, The Burning will recreate the town of Greenwood at the height of its prosperity, explore the currents of hatred, racism, and mistrust between its black residents and neighboring Tulsa's white population, narrate events leading up to and including Greenwood's annihilation, and document the subsequent silence that surrounded the tragedy.
Unspeakable : The Tulsa Race Massacre by
Publication Date: 2021
Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.
News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.
Angel of Greenwood by
Publication Date: 2021
A piercing, unforgettable love story set in Greenwood, Oklahoma, also known as the "Black Wall Street," and against the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Isaiah Wilson is, on the surface, a town troublemaker, but is hiding that he is an avid reader and secret poet, never leaving home without his journal. Angel Hill is a loner, mostly disregarded by her peers as a goody-goody. Her father is dying, and her family's financial situation is in turmoil. Though they've attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can't turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon. But life changes on May 31, 1921 when a vicious white mob storms the Black community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced.
Jam on the Vine : A Novel by
Publication Date: 2015
Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metal-smith from central-east Texas, discovers a lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother's white employer. Living in the segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in the printed word until she earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson Collegiate in Austin. Finally fleeing the Jim Crow South to settle in Kansas City, Ivoe and Ona, her former teacher and present lover, start the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam On the Vine. In the throes of the Red Summer--the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest--Ivoe risks her freedom and her life to call attention to the atrocities of the American prison system. Inspired by the legacy of trailblazing black women like Ida B. Wells and Charlotta Bass, LaShonda Katrice Barnett's Jam On the Vine is both an epic vision of the hardships that defined an era and "an ode to activism, writ[ten] with a scholar's eye and a poet's soul" (Tayari Jones, O The Oprah Magazine).
WALTER F. WHITE: “THE ERUPTION OF TULSA” 1921 in Volume 3 1901-1964 from Milestone Documents in African American History
Full text of article by Walter F. White, appearing in The Nation magazine on July 29, 1921.
"A hysterical white girl related that a nineteen-year old colored boy attempted to assault her in the public elevator of a public office building of a thriving town of 100,000 in open daylight. Without pausing to find whether or not the story was true, without bothering with the slight detail of investigating the character of the woman who made the outcry (as a matter of fact, she was of exceedingly doubtful reputation), a mob of 100-per-cent Americans set forth on a wild rampage that cost the lives of fifty white men; of between 150 and 200 colored men, women and children; the destruction by fire of $1,500,000 worth of property; the looting of many homes; and everlasting damage to the reputation of the city of Tulsa and the State of Oklahoma."
Interpreting violence : The 1921 Tulsa Race Riot and its legacy
America: History and Life with Full Text (Database)
The article analyses aspects of the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Riot and War.
A century ago in Tulsa, a murderous mob attacked the most prosperous black community in the nation.
The Destruction of Black Wall Street: Tulsa’s1921 Riot and the Eradication of Accumulated Wealth
In 1921, the African-American Greenwood community in Tulsa,Oklahoma was victim to one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in American history.
The Tulsa Riot of 1921: Collective Violence and Racial Frames
This research examines the role of divergent frames associated with collective violence. That is, we explain how two racial groups, armed with the same objective facts and conditions, may interpret the causation of collective violence in diametrically opposed ways.
The 1921 Tulsa Massacre
Academic Search Complete (Database)
The name Greenwood still evokes the possibilities and history of Black entrepreneurship, but talk of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre reminds the world of the centuries-long struggle of Black people against white mob violence and its greenlighting from white authorities.
When More than Property Is Lost: The Dignity Losses and Restoration of the Tulsa Riot of 1921
This brief article turns to one episode of particularly heinous violence in the early twentieth-century United States, the Tulsa race riot of1921, and uses Atuahene’s framework to help us understand the reach of the destruction of the riot. For the riot took not just the homes and businesses—and sometimes the lives—of African Americans in Tulsa, it also took their freedom, ran many of them out of the city and state, and left a legacy of white supremacy.
Remembrance, Responsibility, and Reparations: The Use of Emotions in Talk about the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot
This research aimed to examine the role of collective emotions in the process of political solidarity within the context of debate about reparations for the 1921Tulsa Race Riot.