Over 100 years ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma, there was a very successful community called Greenwood. In this neighborhood there were black doctors, black lawyers, and black teachers. This gave black people the opportunity to be successful among other black people. This community was nicknamed “Black Wall Street”.
So, why haven’t most of us heard about it?
For many years, the massacre in this area has been “erased” from commonly-known history and hasn’t even been mentioned to students in history classes. Honestly, the only events we learn about concerning desegregation are the protests that include figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.. The main events that are taught regarding inhumane treatment of black people come when we talk about slavery.
The history that happened before, between, and after is often disregarded. Instead, in our history classes, we are made to memorize all the Presidents chronologically. We spend so much time teaching our students “American History,” but many classes and books leave out the actual acts of domestic terrorism, due to racism, that have happened in America (and continue to happen).
The Tulsa Massacre left 300 people dead and over 8,000 people injured.
The cause of this massacre? A black 19 year old was merely accused of assaulting a white woman. Instead of having a fair trial, white protestors went into action and tried to lynch the young man. However, the community wouldn’t have it. They wanted to make sure that these accusations were found to be true by a jury of peers, as guaranteed for ALL Americans in the Bill of Rights. They wanted to ensure that black people were getting the same rights as white people.
When the protestors couldn’t get the young man, they decided to attack the community and everything that was in it. Shops were vandalized, homes were burned down, and private planes even dropped bombs on this neighborhood! When the FBI arrived, many black community members that asked for help were attacked and arrested. The community lost everything. To this day, nobody has ever been held accountable for the destruction and loss of lives.
After the attack, many black homeowners and business owners were denied support both from the government and insurance companies. That meant that many of them had to leave and start over in a new place. Those that stayed began rebuilding, and many families are still fighting to have their families’ voices heard. In 2001, The Tulsa Race Riot Commission Report put out a statement determining that those who were affected in the Tulsa Massacre should receive compensation for their losses. Yet, nothing has been done over two decades later.
Is this the first you’ve heard about The Tulsa Massacre?
I’m not shocked because many people never learned about it in school. Most of the time history is shaped by a group of people who want to make it seem like everything is okay. How can we improve as a nation when history is constantly repeating itself and we aren’t even made aware of it? That is why I encourage many people to find the truth, especially from those that have been oppressed and silenced. Black History Month gives black people an opportunity to share their stories and their ancestors’ stories, so that we can all learn from them.