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tulsa race massacre

I learned about the Tulsa race massacre in graduate school and I was shocked that my previous education had failed me, but I realized it wasn't just me. Turns out that most students didn't learn about the history of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street and the atrocities that occurred to set the residents back. Surprisingly, even students in Oklahoma didn’t learn about what happened in the bustling, prosperous Black community in 1921. Just over 100 years ago, an angry white mob descended on Tulsa’s Greenwood District, the small Black community that had amassed wealth in the 56 years following the Emancipation Proclamation being signed. The community was entirely self-sufficient with its own barber shop, bank, grocery store, newspaper and school. There were even doctors and real estate agents, which allowed the community to exist without needing to depend on outsiders.

When the white mob came to town, they burned the entire community to the ground and killed around 300 people, historians surmised. The city lay in ruins for years as the state focused on building up the more predominantly white areas and refused to allocate resources. Insurance companies wouldn't pay out claims to rebuild the once thriving community. Residents of Greenwood felt the effects of this for generations. Today, there are three surviving members of Black Wall Street—Lessie Benningfield Randle, 107, Viola Fletcher, 107, and Hughes Van Ellis, 101—and a judge just ruled that their lawsuit seeking reparations can proceed.

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