Justice

One hundred years ago, the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma was a bustling Mecca of Black-owned businesses and a community where Black Americans thrived. It was known colloquially as "Black Wall Street," and was an anomaly in a state where the KKK actively worked to keep Black people oppressed.

On May 31 and June 1, 1921, it all changed. An alleged assault attempt by a young Black man against a young white woman (which never amounted to anything, as all charges were dropped) sparked protests, violence, and ultimately, a massacre by white mobs who murdered, looted, and set fire to Black Wall Street. More than 1200 homes were destroyed, churches were burned, and businesses wiped out. Thousands of white people descended on Greenwood and obliterated 35 city blocks in 24 hours, causing irreparable financial damage in addition to the emotional toll of the massacre.

The death count has never been verified. One newspaper initially only reported that two white people were killed in the "race riot." Current estimates put the number killed at around 300, almost all of them Black residents. Thousands of those left behind had to live in tents and try to pick up the pieces of their lives, literally and figuratively.

Keep Reading Show less