Critical Race Practice. Organizers have canceled plans for an afternoon of speeches and performances commemorating the centennial on Monday of the Tulsa massacre. This reminds us that the early 1920s was a mass othering of America that includes events like the Wall Street bombing of 1920, whose death toll was exceeded in the Tulsa race massacre in 1921.[4]

On May 30, 1921, Greenwood was one of the wealthiest Black communities in the country, home to doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs.

It boasted restaurants, grocery stores, churches, a hospital, a savings and loan, a post office, three hotels, jewelry and clothing stores, two movie theaters, a library, pool halls, a bus and cab service, a highly regarded school system, six private airplanes and two Black newspapers, according to the Greenwood Cultural Center.

Two days later, it was all gone.…

While U.S. officials quickly broke Gen. William T. Sherman’s famous Special Field Order No. 15 providing 40 acres for each formerly enslaved family after the Civil War, U.S. treaties compelled five slave-owning tribes — the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees, Muscogee Creek and Seminoles — to share tribal land and other resources and rights with freed Black people who had been enslaved.

By 1860, about 14% of the total population of that tribal territory of the future state of Oklahoma were Black people enslaved by tribal members. After the Civil War, the Black tribal Freedmen held millions of acres in common with other tribal members and later in large individual allotments.

The difference that made is “incalculable,” Roberts said in an interview. “Allotments really gave them an upward mobility that other Black people did not have in most of the United States.”

The financial stability allowed Black Native American Freedmen to start businesses, farms and ranches, and helped give rise to Black Wall Street and thriving Black communities in the future state of Oklahoma. The prosperity of those communities — many long since vanished —“attracted Black African Americans from the South, built them up as a Black mecca,” Roberts says. Black Wall Street alone had roughly 200 businesses.


For Eli Grayson, another descendant of Muscogee Creek Black Freedmen, any history that tries to tell the story of Black Wall Street without telling the story of the Black Indian Freedmen and their land is a flop.…

Lawmakers heard from Tulsa race massacre survivors Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis, and Lessie Benningfield Randle; massacre descendant and Oklahoma State Rep. Regina Goodwin, in addition to other testimony.

In 1921, the “proud, rich, black” community in Tulsa suffered a brutal massacre — up to 300 black Tulsans were murdered by white residents, and a thriving neighborhood of that Oklahoma city burned to the ground.

What made the 35-square-block Greenwood District stand out was also what made it the target of the violent attack: black prosperity was seen as a threat to white supremacy.


Houses were looted and torched. Businesses were attacked and destroyed. Planes dropped kerosene bombs from the skies, according to witnesses and a 2001 report by an Oklahoma commission that studied the massacre.…

  • May 28, 2021
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