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.
Listed below are some resources you can use to learn more about this tragedy and make sure nothing like this happens again.
NYTimes: What to Know About the Tulsa Greenwood Massacre - A 5 part article with interactive maps of Greenwood.
Tulsa History Society and Museum - This is a multimedia experience.
The Tulsa Massacre: The Dreams of Jack and Daisy Scott How the Tulsa Race Massacre tragically rippled across one family in segregated Oklahoma
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
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.
American History Tellers: Tulsa Race Massacre - The Promised Land - It's also available on other platforms