Tulsa Riot of 1921: The Destruction of Black Wall Street

Today marks the 95th anniversary of the Tulsa Riot of 1921 and the destruction of many homes and businesses in the Greenwood district (also referred to as “Little Africa” and “Black Wall Street”) of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the early 1920’s, Tulsa was wealthy on account of an oil discovery; and because of this, the Greenwood district, a predominately African-American area, flourished. It was one of the most affluent Black-owned commercial areas of the 1900s. The White community in the surrounding areas were unaccepting of economic success of “Black Wall Street.”[1]

On March 31st 1921, a young man by the name of Dick Rowland was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, a 17 year old white elevator operator. This incident was further instigated by newspapers as they encouraged the public to hang Rowland. When the Black community heard about the potential hanging, over 50 armed African-American men came to the courthouse to protect Rowland. They were significantly outnumbered by White citizens. [2] When one of the White men attempted to disarm a Black man a gunshot went off causing the crowd to riot. This riot lasted approximately 16 hours. Over 1,200 homes and businesses were destroyed and over 300 people were killed. June 1st 1921 marked the last day of the riot and the complete destruction of Black Wall Street. No white Tulsans were jailed and Sarah Page did not persecute Dick Rowland.[3]

32_busi_4925Executives of NC Mutual circa 1919

Never Forget.


[1] Richard Wormser, Tulsa Riot (1921). accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_tulsa.html

[2] Wormser, Tulsa Riot (1921), accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_tulsa.html

[3] The 1921 Tulsa Race Disaster, accessed June 1, 2016, http://guides.tulsalibrary.org/content.php?pid=348131&sid=2849293

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s