Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial

Event date: 
Saturday, May 29, 2021 - 1:00pm
Monday, May 31, 2021 - 8:00am
Event address: 


Greenwood, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, was the type of community that African Americans are still, today, attempting to reclaim and rebuild.  It was modern, majestic, sophisticated and unapologetically Black. Tragically, it was also the site of one of the bloodiest and most horrendous race riots (and acts of terrorism) that the United States has ever experienced. 

This year will mark the Centennial, as many as 300 African Americans lost their lives and more than 9,000 were left homeless when the small town was attacked, looted and literally burned to the ground beginning in 1921.  It’s impossible, however, to realize what was lost in Greenwood, which was affectionately known as "Black Wall Street."

The Greenwood community seems almost imagined when we examine it through a historical lens.  The oil booms of the early 1900’s had many moving to Tulsa for a shot at quick economic gains and high life, and African Americans hoped to prosper from the new industry as well.  Tulsa, like many cities and towns throughout the US, was hostilely segregated, with African Americans settling into the northern region of the city.  As we often saw before integration, Blacks in the area created entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves, which housed an impressive business center that included banks, hotels, cafes, clothiers, movie theaters, and contemporary homes.  Greenwood residents enjoyed many luxuries that their White neighbors did not, including indoor plumbing and a remarkable school system that superiorly educated Black children.

It was pure envy, and a vow to put progressive, high achieving African Americans in their place that would cause the demise of the Black Mecca many called “Little Africa”, and its destruction began the way much terrorism, violence and dispossession against African Americans did during that era.  A young White woman accused a young Black man of attempted sexual assault, which gave local mobs and White men acting as police just cause to invade the unsuspecting community. On the malevolent and horrifying attack, Linda Christenson writes the following:

"The term “race riot” does not adequately describe the events of May 31—June 1, 1921 in Greenwood... In fact, the term itself implies that both blacks and whites might be equally to blame for the lawlessness and violence. The historical record documents a sustained and murderous assault on black lives and property. This assault was met by a brave but unsuccessful armed defense of their community by some black World War I veterans and others



Tulsa 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Reading List

Tulsa, 1921: Reporting a Massacre Cover Image
From Burning to Blueprint: Rebuilding Black Wall Street After a Century of Silence Cover Image
The Burning (Young Readers Edition): Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 Cover Image
Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre Cover Image
Black Wall Street Burning Cover Image
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre Cover Image
Opal's Greenwood Oasis Cover Image
Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District (Images of America (Arcadia Publishing)) Cover Image
Angel of Greenwood Cover Image
Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre: The Creation and Destruction of America's Wealthiest African American Neighborhood Cover Image
Black Wall Street Historic Picture Book And The Commission Report. Cover Image
Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921: The History of Black Wall Street, and its Destruction in America's Worst and Most Controversial Racial Riot Cover Image
Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma Cover Image
Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District Cover Image
How to Build a New Black Wall Street Cover Image
The Soul of Black Wall Street: Prestige and Entrepreneurship Cover Image
Riot on Greenwood: The Total Destruction of Black Wall Street Cover Image
The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest Cover Image
Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 Cover Image
Dreamland Burning Cover Image