May 31, through June 1, 1921, a massacre took place when a rumor of a sexual assault by a black man against a white woman in an elevator spread throughout the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The white citizens went wild and rioted, killing hundreds of black men, women, and children, and destroying the black business community of Tulsa in an area known as Greenwood. Greenwood was known for being a Business Mecca where blacks owned and operated businesses including a Movie Theater, Barber Shop Grocery Store, Hotel, Apartment buildings, and numerous businesses and churches, including a well-known African American church, Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church.
It seems that the elevator incident was merely an accidental bumping between two people when the elevator jerked or jolted. The movement caused the elevator occupants to bump into one another. This was magnified into a false accusation of sexual assault and a pretense for starting a riot. The white citizens were joined by airplanes who flooded the area with what some believe were dynamite bombs and bullets from the air, as well as the local Police and National Guard.
After destroying a billion dollars in property damage and the massacre of more than an estimated 300 townspeople with fire and bullets, no one has ever been arrested, other than black victims. The request for reparations was met with granting medals, instead of money. Recently, there were threats of violence again by whites at this year’s 100-year recognition of the Greenwood District and some blacks refused to participate because of the refusal of the authorities to pay Reparations.
There are ongoing efforts to rebuild the Greenwood and Black Wall Street District but little support from the city’s authorities has been forthcoming. It seems that racism and the spirit of jealousy that fed the1921 massacre are still alive, just as the spirit and fear that keeps Black Americans fighting for the right to vote after 400 plus years in this country.
A look at what happened in Tulsa is tragic because of the losses that black Tulsan’s suffered. They were slaughtered and pushed out of the homes, businesses, and the wealth they had accumulated with hard work, following the rules, and patience. They now reside living as neighbors with the offspring of their robbers and murderers who are living large on the benefits of their father’s crimes.
On Tiffany Cross’ MSNBC program, it was exposed that Tulsa’s current mayor’s family had near 1,000 slaves. The whites have taken the land once owned by blacks and built money-making, government enterprises for themselves. No Reparations have been paid or planned. They have set aside 30 million dollars to build libraries, museums, a hotel, and parks on the stolen land, all for white folks’ benefit. The white Tulsans benefit from the bounty of the massacre does not even include plans to teach the truth of what happened in Tulsa. They persist on teaching that slaves were happy workers. They teach that Thomas Jefferson and other writers of the Declaration of Independence were great men but not teach that they were slave owners. They refuse to teach critical race theory that would include the truth of slavery.
The truth is that critical race theory is shared because of the increase in blacks in the media. Blacks need to be in a position to tell their own and not a version of the white story for them. Black media personnel are there in Tulsa to amplify the voices of Black Americans. To be born black in America, you have inherited some of the pain of being black. Insurance Companies refuse to pay, using every excuse in the book including Riot exclusion, Statute of limitations and other exclusions. Some of the exclusions do not apply because some of the survivors like a lady they call, “Mother Viola Fletcher” is still alive at the age of 107, and her brother who is also over 100 years old is left to tell the story.
Among the losers speaking out and still seeking reparations is the great-granddaughter of a man who owned a luxury Hotel, lost due to the state-sanctioned violence. She is one of the 10,000 residents who were made homeless as a result of the 18-hour massacre. The massacre is not taught in Schools, maybe because of the shame of Tulsa’s ancestors who now benefit from the crimes of their Fathers. Highways now pass over the mass graves of black Tulsans.
No effort is being made to catch the massacre criminals though they are easily identified with their published pictures and KKK roster from that time period. They include local firefighters, police officers. Likewise, no efforts have even been discussed with the victims, and though the Victims are in court trying to make their case for Reparations It is believed that even the word Reparations scares the defendants.
Many successors of the Massacre on both sides have discovered their ancestors were either victims or carried out the massacre much to their surprise. What is to be the result of the sad events is not yet known as the lawsuits and negotiations continue.
In my opinion, Reparations are in order.