The Tulsa Race Riot Wednesday marks the 95th anniversary

The Tulsa Race Riot, also more colloquially known as the Black Wall Street Massacre, came to a close on this day 95 years ago, but the damage still endures for many. In 1921, an encounter in a downtown building between two teenagers (a white girl and black boy), led to a manhunt and a standoff in the Oklahoma town. With a lynching averted by local authorities, what was merely a childish run-in quickly escalated into one of the most disgusting and violent moments in American history.

White mobs burned down schools, churches, homes and even a hospital. Of course, this was all after the town voted to segregate everything in the first place and black people, aided by the influx of soldiers coming home from World War I, had created their own economy, effectively allowing them some level of agency and even prosperity economically.

Perhaps most shamefully is the fact it was essentially struck from history books in Oklahoma. Meaning kids in school were denied the opportunity to truly understand one of the most important parts of their local legacy. Now, teachers will use it in curricula, but there are still people who are stunned such a thing ever happened. All the while, actual survivors of the horror were still trying to get reparations for the businesses and residences they lost.

So the next time you hear someone arguing about how black people need to just pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps, don’t forget they once did in the second-largest city in America. Everything they had was destroyed and the truth was hidden.
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