The Tulsa Race Massacre and the Violence of Forgetting
May 27, 2021
In the early 1920s, Black Americans were under the siege of direct and indirect racial violence with widespread lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and race riots across the country. And yet, the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma was thriving. Its streets were lined with successful Black-owned businesses and Black professionals. The businesses were so successful the area was dubbed “Black Wall Street.”
But one hundred years ago today, on May 31st, 1921, a white mob of several thousand murdered up to 300 Black residents, and destroyed almost every Black business, church, and home in the 35-square-block neighborhood.
What followed the massacre was a national forgetting: no reckoning, no justice, and no accountability. Black property owners were never compensated, and neither the city nor the state committed money toward rebuilding Greenwood in the aftermath. In fact, up until recently, the massacre was hardly taught or discussed at all.
Tulsa historian and prolific author and lawyer, Hannibal B. Johnson, joins us on At Liberty to mark the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre and break down its legacy.
Tulsa historian and prolific author and lawyer, Hannibal B. Johnson, joins us on At Liberty to mark the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre and break down its legacy. Hannibal is the chair of the Education Committee of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, which is hosting educational and memorial events in honor of the centennial.