AFRICANGLOBE – An examination of the 1921 Tulsa race riots, the deadliest in US history, proves that the best efforts of Blacks were terminated in America with prejudice.
Americans are slipping into the shadows of their own abyss and trying, at protests and through news media, to save what is left of their country before it is entirely too late. A nation formed during a time of slavery, is still struggling with its conscience, as its malevolent elements struggle to justify any act of violence or murder, as long as it is perpetrated by someone with an American flag patch on their upper arm, against a Black person.
Black Americans first came to this country as slaves, this is common knowledge, but the freeing of the slaves is a contentious issue. Over a long, painful period of time, due to the acts of people like the abolitionist, John Brown, they were granted “liberty.” But the Emancipation Proclamation’s words were, as it turns out, hollow and more for show than go. Words designed to lift the hearts of the most downtrodden, suffering people in history, were stated without sincerity. After the US Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan and “Jim Crow Laws” saturated and contaminated the good will of non-racist Americans, of which there were few in the 1800’s. The struggle for Black Americans is a long and frustrating one, and all people are impacted by the nation’s racism.
In the 20th Century, Black Americans served their country in uniform, but under strictly racist conditions. It took almost 90 years for White America to come to grips with blatant and direct prejudice that dominated the armed services. The US military was fully segregated until 1948; a shamefully long period of time. Until that point, every Black soldier, sailor, Marine and airman, served in an all Black unit, typically commanded by White officers.
Many Americans claim that huge swaths of the country’s Black population failed to recover from the immense poverty that they inherited in post-slavery times; holding the Black race essentially to blame. The truth is that the US has always made things extremely difficult for Black Americans regardless of their best efforts. There is no case more true, than the 1921 race riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which left more than 300 Black Americans dead, and thousands injured and demoralized.
1921 Tulsa Race Riots
Only six decades after breaking the bonds of slavery, Black Americans had established the Greenwood district in Tulsa, a segregated city in a segregated state that was mostly divided during the Civil War. Here, business flourished and people lived well, proving once and for all that Black Americans had the complete and total potential to be financially solvent. This was to be short lived.
African American statesman and educator, Booker T. Washington, dubbed Greenwood, the nerve center of the community, “The Negro Wall Street” or “Black Wall Street” for its now-famous bustling business climate. But in the space of just hours, this incredible post slavery accomplishment went up in flames and hundreds were murdered.
The roots of the 1921 Tulsa Greenwood District Race Riot lie in jealousy, land lust, and the then-prevailing hostility toward African Americans nationwide. In a story repeated in America so many times, the problems began when a Black teenager reportedly accosted or bothered a White teen female.
The Tulsa Race Riot, encompassing large numbers of Ku Klux Klan members, devastated a well established segment of the African American community here, destroying some 1,250 businesses and homes and killing upwards of 300 people.
No White person has ever been convicted for any crime associated with the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, though many Black men faced indictments for inciting the event that leveled their community and resulted in the deaths of their loved ones.
The district nearly disappeared in smoke and flames during eighteen terrible hours on May 31 and June 1, 1921. By the time the violence ended, the city had been placed under martial law and the government even used military aircraft to bomb Greenwood’s buildings.
Adding Insult To Injury
In the late 1990’s, a pair of archeologists, known for their investigation of mass graves around the world, turned up in a cemetery just south and east of downtown Tulsa’s mostly Black Greenwood district. They wanted to verify a hunch that the bodies of an estimated 300 victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot didn’t just disappear into thin air, and were in fact probably buried in a mass grave. There are eyewitness accounts, books written about the riot and historical documents pointing out that some of Tulsa’s most prominent White citizens took part in not only the riot, but also the cover-up.
The team just needed to dig up a little more truth in order to satisfactorily bury the past. But racism has its ways, and the state commission investigating the riot agreed to the investigation, but the city said “no” and the rumored mass grave — as well as the history it contained — was never unearthed. Although Tulsa consistently tries mightily to keep its past deep underground, more and more information keeps surfacing.
In 1919, there were more than two dozen major race riots in America. In 1921, at least 57 African Americans fell victim to lynchings. Despite these atrocities, the American government did little to protect this population so recently emerged from the bonds of slavery.. Indeed, the United States Senate three times failed to pass measures making lynching a federal offense.
So, as we examine the fallout from deadly racism in America in 2014, it pays to look back into the annals of history to best understand the struggle of the Black American. While many “sell out” and live White, most refuse to do so, because they know everything about their race is and has been compromised in the United States. Even Affirmative Action, a program to ensure that fair numbers of minorities receive the same working opportunities as all Americans, was terminated in recent years, as Blacks continue to suffer in poverty, unable to gain the educations or high paying jobs that Whites receive.
When push comes to shove, the reality of what America is, slices like a knife. It defies logic that so many racists remain committed toward hurting people who are different than them, dismissing all of the good qualities, and all the while killing them, in race riots, lynchings, and today…. through the bullets of unscrupulous police officers who exist in an increasingly militarized state.
By: Tim King
Black Wall Street:The Hidden American Holocaust