Monday, June 11, 2018

Lest we forget

 Last week marked the 97th anniversary of Tulsa, Oklahoma's 1921 Race Massacre, wherein mobs of white vigilantes, abetted by complicit government and law enforcement officials, looted, burned, bombed from the air and virtually destroyed the black, thriving, middle-class Greenwood community widely known as Negro Wall Street, in the process killing at least 300 of its 10,000 black residents, and likely many more. Then perhaps America's most preeminent, albeit segregated, black community, Greenwood was created by post-World-War-One blacks fleeing the Deep South; divided by railroad tracks from white Tulsa, they built scores of black-owned businesses, hotels, restaurants and law offices, as well as a library and hospital even as racial hostilities, lynchings and the ranks of Klan members grew - in Tulsa, to over 3,200.

The governor declared martial law, over 6,000 black Tulsans were interned in camps where they were reportedly beaten, starved and killed, and within 24 hours the city's 35 blocks lay in charred ruins, leaving every resident homeless. Initial reports said over 800 people were injured and around 35 people died; that number was later raised to 300, though some historians say the actual total could rival that of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined. 

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