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"...When Tulsa became a booming and rather well noted town in the United States, the residents and government attempted to leave out important aspects of the city. Many people considered Tulsa to be two separate cities rather than one city of united communities. The white residents of Tulsa referred to the area north of the Frisco railroad tracks as “Little Africa” and other derogatory names. This community later acquired the name Greenwood and by 1921 it was home to about 10,000 black American men, women, and children.[1]

Greenwood was centered on a street known as Greenwood Avenue. This street was important because it ran north for over a mile from the Frisco Railroad yards, and it was one of the few streets that did not cross through both black and white neighborhoods. The citizens of Greenwood took pride in this fact because it was something they had all to themselves and did not have to share with the white community of Tulsa. Greenwood Avenue was home to the black American commercial district with many red brick buildings. These buildings belonged to black Americans and they were thriving businesses, including grocery stores, banks, libraries, and much more. Greenwood was one of the most affluent communities and it became known as “Black Wall Street.”..."
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"...In northeastern Oklahoma, as elsewhere in America, the prosperity of minorities emerged amidst racial and political tension. The Ku Klux Klan made its first major appearance in Oklahoma shortly before one of the worst race riots in history.[7] It is estimated that there were about 3,200 members of the Klan in Tulsa in 1921.[citation needed]


The Tulsa Race Riot

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"...One of the nation's worst acts of American racial violence, the Tulsa Race Riot occurred in a neighborhood called Greenwood located in Tulsa, Oklahoma in late May and early June 1921. On the day of the riot, 35 square blocks of homes and businesses were torched by mobs of angry whites. The riot began because of the alleged assault of a white elevator operator, 17-year old Sarah Page, by an African American shoeshiner, 19-year old Dick Rowland (the case against Mr. Rowland was eventually dismissed). The Tulsa Tribune got word of the incident and chose to publish the story in the paper on May 31, 1921. Shortly after the newspaper article surfaced, there was news that a white lynch mob was going to take matters into its own hands and kill Dick Rowland.[6]

A group of armed white men congregated outside the jail and, subsequently, a group of African American men joined the assembled crowd in order to protect Dick Rowland. There was an argument in which a white man tried to take a gun from a black man, and the gun fired a bullet up into the sky.African Americans returned back to Greenwood. A herd of angry whites followed a group of African Americans with many guns and lots of ammunition, which was stolen from local stores. Guns were also provided to the white mob by local law enforcement officials. Now, the riot had begun with local police officers and national guardsmen fighting against the African Americans. (Messer, Chris. “Part of Special Issue: Social Memory and Historical Justice.” Journal of Social History; Summer 2011, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p1217-1232, 16p) Whites flooded into the Greenwood district and destroyed the businesses and homes of African American residents. No one was exempt from the violence of the white mobs; men, women, and even children were killed by the mobs.The total number of deaths from the riot is unknown. African Americans were arrested and placed in detention camps. They remained detained for months. African Americans, eight years later, still hadn’t received financial reparations for the destruction of their community. (Messer, Chris. “Part of Special Issue: Social Memory and Historical Justice.” Journal of Social History; Summer2011, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p1217-1232, 16p)

Over 600 successful businesses were lost. An estimated eight thousand citizens were homeless. Over one thousand 1,200 homes destroyed. (Archer, Seth. “Reading the Riot Acts.” Southwest Review; 2006, Vol. 91 Issue 4, p500-516, 17p) Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and a bus system. Note—It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six blacks owned their own planes. When the riot was over, Atlanta Klansman and Baptist minister Caleb A. Riley assembled Tulsans at the Convention Hall. He spoke about the jury organized to investigate the riot. The jury concluded that the riot was “a direct result of an effort on the part of a certain group of colored men who appeared at the courthouse…..for the purpose of protecting Dick Rowland.” (Archer, Seth. “Reading the Riot Acts.” Southwest Review; 2006, Vol. 91 Issue 4, p500-516, 17p)

Race, greed, and Jim Crow laws played a major role in how African Americans were treated because whites tried to stop African Americans from successfully rebuilding after the riot. Whites tried to tell African Americans who they could sell their goods to and where they can purchase them, so their business would experience more success. Since oil was booming during this time, whites wanted all control of the profits from each and every business in Greenwood. The thought of African Americans putting whites out of business put fear in each white business owner’s mind because then they may have felt equal. (Hadda, Kenneth. “The Power to Undo Sin: Race, History and Literacy Blackness in Rilla Askew’s “Fire in Beulah.” College Literature; Spring2007, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p166-189, 24p)

The African American citizens suspected that the entire thing was planned because many white men, women and children stood on the borders of the city and watched as black men, women and children were shot, burned and lynched. In addition, some of the black-owned airplanes were stolen by the white mob and used to throw cocktail bombs & dynamite sticks from the sky.[11] Although the official death toll claimed that 26 blacks and 13 whites died during the fighting, most estimates are considerably higher. At the time of the riot, the American Red Cross estimated that over 300 persons were killed. The Red Cross also listed 8,624 persons in need of assistance and the delivery of several stillborn infants.[6]

Post riot
The community mobilized its resources and rebuilt the Greenwood area within five years of the Tulsa Race Riot and the neighborhood was a hotbed of jazz and blues in the 1920s.[11] However, the neighborhood fell prey to an economic and population drain in the 1960s, and much of the area was leveled during urban renewal in the early 1970s to make way for a highway loop around the downtown district....."


Greenwood (Tulsa) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Before WWII, "race riots" almost always referred to White attacks on Black communities.  They were justified on small or spurious provocations,  They make Baltimore 2015 look like a child's birthday party (lots of noise, some flames, a few things get broken, people get hurt).  Mostly the white rioters were ignored by authorites.  Sometimes police and/military joined the white rioters.  These incidents were sometimes not reported to police or by media.  Some (like Rosewood, Florida) were only talked about decades after the fact..

Do i approve of Black rioting?  No.  But, come on folks, lets have some balance and perspective if we insist on maklng judgments.  The Black people of Tulsa committed only one offense: they became more successful than their White neighbors.  The same cannot be said for the police in Baltimore.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
amaebi
May. 5th, 2015 02:28 am (UTC)
You know what strikes me? There's something very odd about approving or disapproving of riots.
bobby1933
May. 5th, 2015 03:01 am (UTC)
Well, I'm pretty sure the 1921 residents of Greenwood strongly disapproved. But law, culture, and numbers were not on their side, so you are right, what they approved or disapproved didn't much matter. The fact that they objected to people like themselves being lynched was justification for teaching them whose approval or disapproval mattered.
amaebi
May. 5th, 2015 03:11 am (UTC)
I was thinking more of us bystanders.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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