The Tulsa race massacre happened 99 years ago today | Instant News

Commemoration of this year 1921 Tulsa assassination came amid a national demonstration sparked by the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who died last week at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

And while Floyd’s name along with his repeated plea, “I can’t breathe,” has been called out by thousands of protesters, the names of victims of the Tulsa race slaughter are rarely spoken because the incident has not been named for decades in classrooms across the country.

This is how the massacre, also known as the Tulsa Race Riots, was opened.

In the 1920s, the Greenwood District was nicknamed “Black Wall Street” when the community boasted over 300 black-owned businesses, including two theaters, a doctor, a pharmacist, and even a pilot who owned his own private airplane.

However, the success of the black community made some white people in Tulsa envious and angry, according to Mechelle Brown, program director at Greenwood Cultural Center.

They commented, “‘Dare these negroes to have a big piano in their house, and I don’t have a piano in my house,'” Brown told Sara Sidner on CNN in 2016.

Tulsa seeks mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa race slaughter

Tension reached its peak after the elevator incident between a 17-year-old white girl named Sarah Page and a 19-year-old black man named Dick Rowland.

Page worked as an elevator operator and Rowland would use the elevator almost every day.

“This special day after the elevator door closed and Sarah Page and Dick Rowland were alone in the elevator for a while, there was a scream,” Brown said.

After the elevator door opened, Roland ran and was then arrested. Page initially claimed he was attacked, Brown said.

Other historical records say Rowland stumbled to leave the elevator, grabbed Page’s arm, he shouted and a spectator went to the authorities.

While Page never filed a lawsuit, the authorities did, and in the end the rumor was that Page had been raped.

White armed mobs invaded Greenwood

On May 31, a group of black and white men faced each other in the courthouse where Roland was detained. After the shots were fired, everything was chaotic.

Outdated African-Americans retreated to the Greenwood District, but the following morning, hordes of white people began looting and burning businesses in Greenwood, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.

In a span of only 24 hours, 35 square blocks were burned and more than 1,200 houses destroyed. Contemporary reports about death began at the age of 36, but historians now believe as many as 300 people died, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.
The photo shows the effects of a white mass attacking black residents and businesses from the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
At the end of the violence, Black Wall Street was destroyed. The photo shows African-Americans lying dead in the streets. The scene was recreated in the first episode of the HBO series “Security.”

Nothing in the history book

In the decades following the 1921 massacre, most were not recognized.

“The Oklahoma school doesn’t talk about it. In fact, newspapers don’t even print information about the Tulsa Race Riots,” US Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma told CNN Affiliate, KFOR in 2018. “It was totally ignored. It was one of those terrible events that everyone wanted to be swept under the carpet and ignored.”
An African-American man with a camera staring at an iron bed frame soaring above the ash of a burning beam after the Tulsa Race Riots, 1921.

Oklahoma leaders announced in February that the state would move forward by embedding the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre into the curriculum of all Oklahoma schools.

The City of Tulsa continues to investigate what happened to the bodies of the victims and has digging mass graves.

The same racial injustice theme applies today

Protests erupted across the country in cities including Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Washington over the weekend, with protesters demanding justice for Floyd who died at the hands of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

City extended the curfew for another night in an attempt to avoid violent protests over the death of George Floyd
Chauvin was fired after a video recording showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, a total of 46 seconds. She is was charged last Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree murder. Three other police officers involved have not been charged.
“As you watch today’s protests, remember #TulsaRaceMassacre,” a non-profit organization ColorofChange tweeted on Sunday. “The fight to end police brutality will not end #UntilJusticeIsReal.”

Christina Maxouris from CNN contributed to this report.


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