Nearly 99 years later, black Tulsa residents are still haunted by a race riot in their city. In 1921, a white mob killed and burned its way through the city’s Greenwood neighborhood, at its time one of the largest and wealthiest black communities.
Greenwood Avenue once was home to the largest black-owned hotel in the United States, as well as banks, medical and law offices, and libraries, all black-owned. The area became known as Black Wall Street.
“Greenwood used to be the mecca of Black opportunity and Black economy. This is sacred ground,” said community activist Kristi Williams, whose great aunt survived the massacre. “This was the place to be for newly-free Africans to re-establish themselves. There are bones in the land that keep us connected to this place.”
The massacre was inspired after a black youth was arrested for allegedly assaulting a white girl. The allegations were unproven. White rioters destroyed 23 churches and more than 2,000 businesses and homes of Tulsa blacks, encompassing 36 blocks of the Greenwood neighborhood.
About 300 people died, and 6,000 survivors and black Tulsa residents were sent to internment camps. It’s suspected a mass grave was dug along the river. Restitution and insurance claims were denied, citing riots in contract clauses. No one was ever charged in the murders. While some survivors returned to the city, it never regained its former status.
“Greenwood today is confined like a holding zone,” said Cleo Harris Jr. who owns Black Wall Street T-shirts and Souvenirs shop on Greenwood Avenue. “The dividing of Greenwood by this highway was white America’s way to contain us. Black people are still considered less than.”
And on Saturday, there will be a Trump rally held just blocks from the site of the massacre, one day after Juneteenth which commemorates the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. Trump says his supporters “love Black people.”
Rev. Mareo Johnson, who runs the Tulsa Black Lives Matter (BLM) chapter, said, “I do look at Trump’s visit as a slap in the face, a form of disrespect.”
See this complete story at Reuters.