Today marks the 100-year-anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. An infamous historical event that saw an all-white cohort attack the neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The business centre, known as “Black Wall Street” housed many of the city’s 10,000+ black residents and was one of the wealthiest black communities in the U.S.
The scenes started when a black teenager – Dick Rowland – was wrongfully and undeservedly arrested for sexual assault on a white woman. The charges were later dropped, as they were found to be abjectly false, but what preceded is known as one of the most widely remembered episodes of racial violence in U.S. history.
After the news of the arrest spread a sizable white mob, many officially deputized by the police in a state-sponsored act, descended on the local courthouse to lynch Rowland. Through fear for the teenager’s life a number of black men – several of them U.S. WW1 veterans – stood up to protect the teenager.
The white mob began firing on the men which began a two-day horror of murder, rape, assault, looting and arson across the territory. The attack ended “Black Wall Street” killing as many as 300 black people, burning an estimated 35-square-blocks in Greenwood and leaving as many as 10,000 black residents homeless. The massacre was completely omitted from history books for decades and no reparations or compensation were ever given to those affected.
CNN, OWN, PBS, History, A+E Networks, NBCUniversal, ABC and National Geographic all have content airing across the week to commemorate the atrocity.
Notably, Lebron James’ Springfield Entertainment alongside CNN Films are producing Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street for CNN directed by Salima Koroma and Russell Westbrook Enterprises and Blackfin has made Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre.
Commenting on the piece Westbrook said: “It’s upsetting that the atrocities that transpired then are still so relevant today. It’s important we uncover the buried stories of African Americans in this country. We must amplify them now more than ever if we want to create change moving forward.”
Each piece airing looks at the transgression through a different lens, not only shedding new light on the event but also the subsequent financial impact for black people across America, the history of white violence against both African American and Aboriginal communities in the U.S., and how the history affects and ties into current social issues.