1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma: History which must be remembered and taught!

On the evening of June 1, 1921, KKK members were full of rage and burnt Greenwood to the ground. In less than 12 hours, the once successful black business town was demolished. The horrific events caused by the KKK had left thousands of innocent African- Americans dead and their once owned property of churches, restaurants, grocery stores, private airplanes and law offices were burnt down.

The Untold Story of The Black Wall Street in America

Tulsa Race Riot Black Wall Street. Photo: Google Images

BY: KAREN MILLER

Many African-Americans may not have been aware there was once a town named Greenwood that was located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greenwood was a unique town in the United States; it was the first all-black city that blacks were successful pilots, doctors, lawyers and teachers. Black Wall Street was often compared as mini Beverly Hills over 600 black owned businesses was established. The tragic story of what happened to; Black Wall Street is barely told in American history.

Blacks had first migrated to Tulsa with the Native Americans. Both races settled there as a result of President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act, the state of Oklahoma had over 28 black towns because many blacks and Native Americans wanting to have their own town. The goals of the blacks and Native Americans who settled in Tulsa was to create a multi-ethnic community among the Five Tribes and try to help grow a country together during the 1900s.

The Greenwood community also developed a strong education system, black students learned about ancient and modern history, psychology, English and bookkeeping. The community was thriving well, despite many whites felt that blacks were second citizens. Blacks were growing into business owners and entrepreneurs.

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) decided to invade the town because Dick Rowland a resident of Greenwood was accused of raping and assaulting Sarah Page, a white woman. The result of their unclear relationship was the center of the demolishment of Greenwood. Rumors started spreading among white residents of Tulsa and they planned to lynch Rowland.

The local newspaper, Tulsa Tribune reported a false story saying that Rowland was charged with assault and blacks knew it was a fabricated story and some residents went into town to defend Rowland. Rowland was wrongfully lynched by the KKK and the plan to attack and eliminate the town of Greenwood was put into effect.

On the evening of June 1, 1921, KKK members were full of rage and burnt Greenwood to the ground. In less than 12 hours, the once successful black business town was demolished. The horrific events caused by the KKK had left thousands of innocent African- Americans dead and their once owned property of churches, restaurants, grocery stores, private airplanes and law offices were burnt down.

The KKK destroyed a 35 square block area of the town and the estimated property loss reached above $2.3 million. Many innocent blacks who were trying to protect their homes were arrested or killed for no reason. Approximately 4,300 African-Americans were left homeless.

Tulsa began to cover up the aftermath of the violent riot and funerals were forbidden for the victims of the massacre. By 1922 most of the buildings in the original community were rebuilt, but it did not last and the city was not the same again.

According to the San Francisco Bayview, national black newspaper, the massacre and destruction of Black Wall Street allegedly was caused because many white people had come back from World War I and they were poor. Blacks after the war were successful and were consider heroes after they fought in the war.

Black Wall Street is an influential factor for African Americans, despite the horrific ending, the people of Greenwood showed that blacks have had successful careers during the early 1900s. Black Wall Street was not the typical town in America; many blacks were very wealthy and the community flourished for approximately twenty-one years. The destruction of Greenwood is the largest massacre of nonmilitary Americans in the history of this country. The devastation of Greenwood cost the black community everything and the United Stated government has never admits to the wrong doing and no restitution has never been awarded to the victims and the city was practically erased from American history.