THE TULSA RACE RIOT
In 1921, the Greenwood Avenue district of Tulsa, Oklahoma was an exemplar of what a motivated African American middle class could accomplish. Dubbed, "The Negro Wall Street,"
Greenwood Avenue was populated by successful African American families, businesses, hospitals and churches. All this would change on May 31. A young black man was accused of attempting to rape a white woman in a Tulsa
elevator. Later, a rumor flew through the community that a lynch party was forming. Several young black men formed a defense party. At the courthouse they encountered a group of white men.
Strong words (and some say bullets) were let loose. A pitched gun battle began right there on the spot. Soon, the white rioters forgot about their immediate targets and concentrated on looting and burning Greenwood Avenue. The mayor had to call in the National Guard from Oklahoma City to end the violence.
In the aftermath, dozens of people, black and white, were dead. The exact body count is still unknown. Greenwood Avenue was completely gone; burned to the ground. Fortunately, many residents refused to be scared away by the riots, and rebuilt the neighborhood. The scars from the ordeal, however, haunt many African American residents of Tulsa to this day.