A little- known chapter of African-American history in Oklahoma as told to Ronald E. Childs. If anyone truly believes that Columbine High School massacre or the on the Federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was the most tragic bombing ever to take place on United States soil as the media has been widely reporting, they’re wrong plain and simple. That’s because an even deadlier bomb occurred in the same state to forget that it ever happened. Searching under the heading of “riots,” “Oklahoma,” and “Tulsa” in current editions of the World Book Encyclopedia, there is conspicuously no mention of the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and this omission is by no means a surprise, or a rare case. The fact is, one would be hard-pressed to find documentation of the incident, let alone an accurate accounting of it, in any other “scholarly” reference or American history book. That’s precisely the point that noted author, publisher and orator Ron Wallace, a Tulsa native, sought to make nearly five years ago when he began researching this riot, one of the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. Ultimately joined on the project by colleague Jay Jay Wilson of Los Angeles, the duo found and compiled indisputable evidence of what they now describe as,

“The Black Holocaust in America.”

The date was June 1, 1921, when “Black Wall Street,” the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving 36-black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering-A model community destroyed, and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused. The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African-Americans dead, and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. As could be expected, the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials, and many other sympathizers. ( http://www.assatashakur.org/forum/shoulders-our-freedom-fighters/19015-black-wall-street-massacre-k-tulsa-race-riot.html )

While attending memorial services for a dear friend, Wayman Tisdale, the repass dinner was held at the Greenwood Cultural Center, the home of the Black Wall Street Memorial. To go as far into depth as this subject merits would take up too much time and space, however, I urge you to follow the links provided to make sure you educate yourself on such a noteworthy topic. What touched me particularly was on the back of the memorial there was a list of the names of all the businesses that were destroyed in the fire. The list read on and on, I stood in awe looking at the numbers of business; it was remarkable to see that African-Americans, even in the 20’s were so enterprising, despite the odds, the segregration, the threats, the racism!





  1. May 23, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    i had no idea about this. very informative.

  2. 2 Larry Thomlinson
    May 24, 2009 at 7:26 PM

    As many know, I dealt with the Tulsa riot in my book of short stories “Life, Death and other Dysfunctions.” In the story “Allie” which tells the story of our “maid” — as she was called in those days, the story is replete with the description of the terror and destruction on that June day 1921. The story is based on truth. Allie was our maid. She was one of the two great women in my formative years, as noted in the front of the collection.

    It good to see more focus placed on that horrendous day, thus adding to our history.

    Larry Thomlinson

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