Riot of All Races

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The Tulsa Race Riot was bloody massacre upon the African American race in 1921. Tulsa’s riot of 1921 is considered to be the worst race riot even though, white mobs and lynching was a growing fad around the United States after the First World War. The story of this historical event is filled with grief, fear and mystery. It is devastating the amount of people that died during those eighteen hours and not counting the unmarked gravesites that may hold more bodies from the riot. The fact that a small misunderstood incident could explode into unfortunate record in Oklahoma’s history. Some controversy behind the Tulsa Race Riots is still under investigation today. The mystery behind what really happened on those last days of May may have not been a mystery at all if the records and newspaper articles from the riot hadn’t been malicious taken or destroyed. The Tulsa Race Riots are a well-kept secret that is barely mentioned in Oklahoma Public Schools; particularly about what caused the Riots, what happened during the Riot and the actions that were taken to rebuild and give back to the families involved what they had lost. Although the Tulsa Race Riot is said to be the bloodiest race riot recorded, racial tension was happening all over the United States and the issue started well before the riot of 1921 took place. American citizens were living in an era of segregated facilities based on skin color. In 1919, a little over two-dozen race riots were happening across the U.S (The…, 8). World War I has just ended before the Tulsa Race Riot took place. WWI influenced the reoccurring race riots because of returning soldiers coming back to the United States to find black men taking their jobs. The fact that African Americans would perform the job for a cheaper price gave them the leg up on the white men. “In the long and often painful history of race relations in the United States, few periods were as turbulent as the years surrounding WWI, when the country exploded into an era of almost unprecedented racial strife” (The…, 8). The reappearance of another infamous group was playing a large role in the discrimination of African Americans. The Ku Klux Klan made a come back and their member numbers grew rapidly (The..., 1). The reactions from African Americans would be different towards the actions of the KKK this time around. Black men across the nation fought back to the racial assaults against them and their communities, especially in the subject of lynching (The…, 1). People noticed that the fad of lynching was gaining popularity through out the country, and it was only going to increase.

It didn’t take long for the increasing race problem to hit Oklahoma. Before the oil industry discovered Tulsa’s underground moneymaker, Tulsa was just a sleepy town in northeastern Oklahoma (The…, 1). When people received word of the large amounts of oil just waiting patiently under Tulsa and surrounding cities red dirt, they packed their bags and moved to what soon local industry experts called the “Magic City” because of the quick increasing population growth that made it a busy metropolis (The…, 1). Tulsa had a population of one hundred thousand near the beginning of 1921 (The…, 1). Oil Tycoons were building mansions that seemed almost before their time. Oil Tycoon Waite Phillips’ real estate masterpiece still stands today as the Philbrook Museum, which was built just a year before the race riots. Around 1921, Tulsa had a black population of ten thousand (The…, 1). The majority of this population lived in an area sometimes referred to as “Little Africa” by the white Tulsan citizens (The…, 3). But if an African American resident of Tulsa were asked, he or she would simply refer to their community as Greenwood Avenue. The Greenwood area was “a vibrant neighborhood that was home to two newspapers, several churches, a library branch, and scores of black-owned businesses” (The…, 1). Even though it was not necessarily illegal...
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