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Greenwood Massacre

May 25, 2021

In 1921 most of the 10,000 Black residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma, lived in a neighborhood called Greenwood. The area was considered one of the most affluent African American communities in the country in the early part of the 20th century. Greenwood was commonly identified as “Black Wall Street” due to its status as a self-contained hub for business and culture.

On May 31, 1921, the Tulsa Tribune reported that a young Black man attempted to rape a white female elevator operator. The immediate and violent response was vigilante in nature but was also empowered by Tulsa city officials. Greenwood was decimated. This tragic 100-year-old story was under reported at the time. And in the time since it has tended to escape historic exposure as what might be the single worst incidence of racial violence in American history.

“Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” is a new two-hour documentary airing May 30 at 8:00 p.m. on the History Channel.

Learn more: On May 19 a House Judiciary subcommittee heard stories from the three known survivors of the 1921 riot.