Subversive Historian – 06/01/09

The End of the Tulsa Race Riot

Back in the day on June 1st, 1921, rioting by white mobs against blacks in Tulsa, Oklahoma ceased after the National Guard enforced martial law. In what was one of the most tragic episodes of racist violence in the U.S., the Tulsa Race Riot claimed the lives of three hundred people; mostly blacks. The disastrous event was touched off by an incident on May 30th in an elevator in which many whites believed Sarah Page, a white operator, was attacked by Dick Rowland, a black man. With Rowland arrested, the Tulsa Tribune inflamed racist temperament the next day with the headline “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator.” Crowds of white and blacks gathered outside the courthouse where he held when a shot was fired as a white man attempted to disarm a black man. Violence erupted soon after that consumed black Tulsa as white mobs killed its residents, destroyed its homes and engulfed in flames the businesses of a district once known as “black wall street.”

A young John Hope Franklin was raised in Oklahoma amidst the Tulsa Race Riot and would live on to become a preeminent historian of African-American history ensuring that the past of his people, including the events of 1921, would never be forgotten.


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