On the morning of May 30, 1921, a young black man named Dick Rowland was riding in the elevator in the Drexel Building at Third and Main with a white woman named Sarah Page. The details of what followed vary from person to person. Accounts of an incident circulated among the city’s white community during the day and became more exaggerated with each telling.
Tulsa police arrested Rowland the following day and began an investigation. An inflammatory report in the May 31 edition of the Tulsa Tribune spurred a confrontation between black and white-armed mobs around the courthouse where the sheriff and his men had barricaded the top floor to protect Rowland. Shots were fired and the outnumbered African Americans began retreating to the Greenwood District.
In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Greenwood was looted and burned by white rioters. Governor Robertson declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa. Guardsmen assisted firemen in putting out fires, took African Americans out of the hands of vigilantes, and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned. Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.
Twenty-four hours after the violence erupted, it ceased. In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins, more than 800 people were treated for injuries and contemporary reports of deaths began at 36. Historians now believe as many as 300 people may have died.
Watch our event commemorating the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Download the slides from the presentation
Listed below are some resources you can use to learn more about this tragedy and make sure nothing like this happens again.
Take the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
The Whitehouse: A Proclamation on Day Of Remembrance: 100 Years After The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
NYTimes: What to Know About the Tulsa Greenwood Massacre - A 5 part article with interactive maps of Greenwood.
NYTimes: Biden Promises Tulsa Massacre Survivors Their Story Will Be ‘Known in Full View’
Tulsa History Society and Museum - This is a multimedia experience.
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
The Tulsa Massacre: The Dreams of Jack and Daisy Scott How the Tulsa Race Massacre tragically rippled across one family in segregated Oklahoma
A New Generation of Black Entrepreneurs Wants to Recapture Greenwood’s Past
The Zinn Education Project: Massacres in U.S. History - Tulsa is not the first or the last massacre in US History
The Bombing of Tulsa - Includes a video
Burning The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 by Tim Madigan
Democracy Now: U.S. Marks 100th Anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre, When White Mob Destroyed "Black Wall Street"
Charles Blow talks to author Caleb J. Gayle about the 100th anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre.
Tulsa Massacre 100 Years Later: Tulsa Native on What Justice Looks like for Black Wall Street
American Experience | PBS: Remembering the Tulsa Massacre 100 Years Later
Emory University: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921
Vox: The massacre of Tulsa's "Black Wall Street"
7 Tulsa Race Massacre Documentaries and Specials To Watch - The documentaries listed in this article require a VPN or another source for people outside of the US to view them. I think they are well worth the effort to view them.
1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Testify Before Congress - Siblings Hughes Vann Ellis, age 100, and Viola Fletcher, age 107, testify at a congressional hearing looking into legal remedies to compensate survivors and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
The Burning of Black Tulsa- NYTimes Podcast
DREAMS OF BLACK WALL STREET Podcast
NPR Special Series: The Tulsa Race Massacre
American History Tellers: Tulsa Race Massacre - The Promised Land - It's also available on other platforms
Stuff You Missed in History Class: The Tulsa Race Riot and Black Wall Street