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.
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Outdated African-Americans retreated to the Greenwood District, but the following morning, hordes of white people began looting and burning businesses in Greenwood,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.
Nothing in the history book
In the decades following the 1921 massacre, most were not recognized.
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 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.
Christina Maxouris from CNN contributed to this report.
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