Tulsa Race Riots

Topics: African American, Race and Ethnicity, Racial segregation Pages: 5 (1743 words) Published: April 6, 2007
I. Introduction pg. 3
II. Riot Beginnings pg. 3 -4
III. Statistics pg. 4-5
IV. Lives Changed pg. 5-6
V. Reparations pg 6-7
VI. References pg. 8

The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was a dark time in the history of Oklahoma. It all began with a simple misunderstanding, but had catastrophic consequences. Homes and businesses were destroyed, many African Americans and whites were killed, and Tulsa had lost its soul. In the beginning Oklahoma was just a young state, and Tulsa was just a young town, trying to find its place in the world. The discovery of Oil quickly turned Tulsa into one of the most prosperous towns in America. As the town prospered, so did its citizens, which includes African Americans. It is an irony in that through racial segregation Greenwood Avenue became as successful as it was. It was necessary that African American businesses existed because they catered to the African American dollars that were being earned. The white businesses did not serve African Americans because of racial segregation. The area was such a success that populations of other African Americans from around the country saw it as a beacon of hope. The new residents had a hard work ethic and helped build up North Tulsa into was it was, the Mecca for African Americans in the Southwest. Riot Beginnings With all this prosperity and wealth many African Americans were happy but many whites saw this as a threat. They saw African Americans who prospered as a threat to their power, to the way things use to be (African Americans being slaves, or children of them). There were some African Americans that had better homes and better jobs than some whites. Many in the White community could not stand for it. Hatred and resentment grew and it was adding fuel to the fire that was waiting to be sparked by a match. That match would eventually be lit when Dick Rowland a shoeshine boy, bumped into a white girl named Sarah Page. It was a trivial misunderstanding. Rowland accidentally steps on Miss Page's shoe and she yelled. She then claimed that she was assaulted by Mr. Rowland. Dick was eventually picked up by the police and put into jail. It was a known fact that many of the members of the Police department were members of the Ku Klux Klan and many in the African American community knew Rowland's fate if he were to be left in the hands of these so called police officers. The African American citizens had to protect him from a lynching and the white citizens wanted to lynch him. A crowd of African Americans came to the steps of the station were Rowland was held and offered their assistance in protecting him from a gathering white mob. The police declined this offer and the African Americans left. As they were leaving the scene to return home they ran into more concerned African Americans and with that crowd they headed back to the station because those African Americans had heard rumors that the white mob was growing. They once again offered their assistance to the police and once again it was turned down. A white officer tried to disarm the crowd and came upon one African American man who refused to give up his gun and a struggled ensued. Gunfire broke out and once the smoke had settled two African Americans were dead along with ten white men. This was the match that was lit, because the Dick Rowland incident was only the box that the matches came in. Violence was on the menu for the evening as fires and smoke lit up the night sky. The irony of the situation is that Rowland and Page have been reported as running away together. Statistics

James Patrick wrote an interesting article about the Tulsa riot that includes many statistics from this night of violence. Mr. Patrick writes about the race...

References: Palmer, B. (2005). Stanford Alumnus seeks reparations. Retrieved September 27th 2006, from http;//news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/february16/Tulsa-021605.hmtl
Patrick, J. (1999, July 9). The Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Riot of 1921. Exodus News. Retrieved September 27th 2006, from http://www.exodusnews.com/HISTORY/History007.htm
Ruble, R. (2000, February 5th). Tulsa race riot panels recommend reparations. Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 27th 2006, from http://www.commondreams.org/headlines/020500-01.htm
White, W. (June 29, 1921): "The Eruption of Tulsa", Nation 112 pg. 909–910. Retrieved September 27th 2006 from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5119/
Anonymous, A. (October 26, 1996). "Race Riot Verdict", New York Times. Retrieved October 28th 2006 from http://writing.upeen.edu/~afileris/50s/race-riot-verdict.html
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