Racial Violence in Tulsa (1921)

History is vitally important, we need remember events from our past and learn from them.

On this day (31 May) in 1921, one of the worst instances of racial violence in the United States occurred, one that for decades was rarely mentioned in classrooms or in history books.

A large white mob attacked both residents and businesses in the affluent black community of Greenwood in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The violence began when a black man was arrested and accused of raping a white woman. She didn’t press charges and there was little basis for the claim, but rumour and ignorance took over. A mob of white people descended on the police station to be met by a black crowd seeking to prevent a potential lynching, in a state where they were commonplace.

Thousands went on the rampage amid hysterical talk of a ‘negro uprising’. They destroyed properties, killed many people, and left as many as ten thousand black people homeless. Plausible eyewitnesses reported that the police were complicit in the violence.

Sometimes truth is uncomfortable. Even today, racial violence can be misrepresented in an warped attempt to distort truth and make events more palatable.

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