Citizens gunned down on city streets, low flying planes dropping incendiary devices and passengers firing at people fleeing on the streets, and a community demolished. A scene from some action film of WW2? A fantasy of some unimaginable time of madness? No, the year is 1921 and the place a prosperous area of the greater Tulsa area known as Greenwood, and by some as the "Black Wallstreet." Today it is known simply as "The Tulsa Race Riot."
The events of May 31-June 1 of 1921 was the result of a collision of bubbling racism from southerners who had settled in the northeastern part of Oklahoma, jealousy over the economic achievements and prosperity of "those" races (the African American and Native American), fear, and plan old greed. As a result, many people died, were arrested, beaten, frightened, and an entire section of an American city was destroyed due to the vile evil of racism.
How many died? Official counts have always been low, and due to the wholesale racism at play, highly suspect. Conservative figures are at around 300 but some suggest it might be closer to the four digit count. Mass burials and no records create a fog over the truth of the matter.
What is needed is wide spread archaeological work to locate mass grave sites in the area and discover once and for all just how horrific the event really was. It is already the worst race riot of American history but few knew that until the 2001 report of the event was made public. It never made it into history books so others might learn about the depths of evil to which people can sink when they are ruled by fear, hatred, jealousy and greed. Today, impressive development is renewing this area by acknowledging the past but moving into a positive future.
Racism is a cancer of society....let's all work together to find a cure.