Black History Corner

Have you ever heard of the Tulsa race Massacre also called the Greenwood Massacre or the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921? Where here is a little snippet of it to make you want to learn more about it:

The Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma had such a strong black business district that it was nicknamed “Black Wall Street.” What took years to build, took only days to burn down. On May 31st and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District. It has been called “The single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” The attacked carried out on the ground and from private aircraft, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district – at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as “Black Wall Street.”

The massacre began over Memorial Day weekend after 19- year old Dick Rowland, a black shoe shiner was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, the 17- year old white elevator operator. He was taken into custody. An erroneous newspaper article said Rowland attempted to rape her. Again and again in America, the charge of a black man raping a white woman created a white mob that gathered to take justice into its own hands. Rumors spread that he had been lynched, alarmed, the local blacks arrived at the courthouse armed as well. In Greenwood, blacks were shot like prey. Whites set fires. More than 1,400 buildings and businesses were destroyed, and dozens of people most of them black, were killed.

About 10,000 blacks were left homeless. The local whites who were left were silent about the event for decades. It was left out of the history.

As usual a commission was formed to study the incident. The Commission’s final report, published in 2001, said that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens; it recommended a program of reparations to survivors and their descendants. The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, encourage economic development of Greenwood, and develop a memorial park in Tulsa to the massacre victims. The park was dedicated in 2010.  In 2020 (this year), the massacre became part of Oklahoma’s school curriculum.

Left out of the history books for nearly 100 years and now it is brought into the light. Please take some time now that we are sheltered in, to read more about this and to discuss it with your children. We will not let the history of our people die with us!

Sister Lakay Wilkerson

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