30 May 2021   Leave a comment

One hundred years ago, the US experienced what was arguably the worst race massacre in its history in Tulsa, Oklahoma. African-Americans had gone to Tulsa after the Civil War because Oklahoma was regarded as a safe space for Blacks and the African-Americans established a thriving neighborhood known as Greenwood which was also called the “Black Wall Street”. The Tulsa massacre followed a number of race riots instigated by whites against blacks in 1919. Those riots were meant to put African-Americans back into “their place” after many blacks assumed that they would be honored for their service in World War I. The Guardian describes the massacre:

“….on 31 May and 1 June 1921, a white mob had attacked Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, killing an estimated 300 people and wounding 800 more while robbing and burning businesses, homes and churches. Planes dropped explosives on the area, razing it to the ground. It remains one of the worst acts of racial violence in American history.”

The violence was also described by Viola Fletcher, who was seven years old when the massacre occurred and who testified to Congress about it at the age of 107:

“‘I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street, I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams,’ said Fletcher, one of the last three known survivors of what is known as the Tulsa race massacre.

“’I have lived through the massacre every day,’ the 107 year old told a United States congressional subcommittee earlier this month. ‘Our country may forget this history, but I cannot. I will not, and other survivors do not – and our descendants do not…..’

“‘I think about the terror and horror inflicted upon Black people in this country every day,’ Fletcher said. ‘I’m asking that my country acknowledge what has happened to me – the traumas and the pain and the loss.'”

The Tulsa massacre was itself extraordinary, but the deliberate forgetting of the massacre was also unbelievable. Here is an image of the Tulsa newspaper the day after:

As the US engages in a senseless debate about “critical race theory”, we should first remind ourselves that learning basic history is a necessary first step to understanding the race question in the US. If all Americans knew how African-Americans have been treated throughout the history of the US, first as colonies of European powers and second as an independent republic, then perhaps having a theory to explain the atrocities would not be necessary.

Posted May 30, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: