Ruins after the race riots. Greenwood is a historic freedom colony in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses in the United States, it was known as America's Black Wall Street, until the Tulsa race riot of 1921, in which white residents massacred hundreds of black residents and razed the neighborhood within hours. The attack destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district, at the time the wealthiest black community in the United States. The riot began over Memorial Day weekend after 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a black shoeshiner, was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, the 17-year-old white elevator operator of the nearby Drexel Building. After he was taken into custody, some blacks worried that Rowland was at risk of being lynched. A group of armed black men rushed to the police station where the suspect was held; there they encountered a crowd of white men and women. A confrontation developed, shots were fired, and twelve people were killed, ten white and two black. As news of these deaths spread throughout the city, mob violence exploded. About 10,000 black people were left homeless, and property damage amounted to more than $1.5 million in real estate and $750,000 in personal property ($32 million in 2019). American National Red Cross photograph collection, 1921.
April 22nd, 2019
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