Tulsa's Greenwood district is the site of one of the most devastating race disturbances in the history of the United States. Before May 31, 1921, Tulsa's black business district known as Greenwood flourished in spite of segregation. It boasted of several restaurants, theaters, clothing shops and hotels. Dubbed the "Black Wall Street," Greenwood was an economic powerhouse.
After May 31, 1921, Greenwood would never be the same. The tension mounted between the black and white communities over an incident that allegedly occurred in an elevator at Drexel building in downtown Tulsa involving Sarah Page, a 17-year-old white elevator operator, and Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old black man. There are several versions of what supposedly transpired, but the most common being that Dick Rowland accidentally stepped on Page's foot in the elevator, throwing her off balance. When Rowland reached out to keep her from falling, she screamed. Many Tulsans came to believe through media reports that Rowland attacked Page although no sufficient evidence surfaced to substantiate the claim. The incident was further escalated by a local newspaper headline that encouraged the public to "Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator."
The strained relationship between the white and black communities, the heightened jealousy of the success of the Black Wall Street area and the elevator encounter led to the Tulsa Race Riot.
Armed white men looted, burned and destroyed the black community. When the smoke cleared, mere shells of buildings were all that remained of the business district. The Red Cross estimates that more than 300 people were killed and approximately 1,200 homes were destroyed.
African-American Resource Center Holdings include vertical files, additional photos, and books about the riot.
Research Center, Central Library Holdings include newspapers on microfilm, vertical files, and books about the riot.
1921 Race Riot In-Depth Resource Guide: http://bit.ly/TZaMkm
Kits may be checked out from the AARC by teachers only. Each kit includes the following resources.
Magazines & Journals
In addition to the articles, magazines and journals listed above, the African-American Resource Center also has holdings of, the June 14, 1921 address by Mayor T. D. Evans to the City of Tulsa's Commissioners Board concerning the riots.
In search of history. The night Tulsa burned / producer/writer, Sean P. Geary ; producer, Mark Montgomery.
[New York] : History Channel, 2002
Terror in Tulsa: History Uncovered. : CN8 : in association with FullMind, c2008
First person singular: John Hope Franklin / Dick Young Productions for Lives and Legacies Films.
[Alexandria, Va.] : PBS Home Video, c1997.
Riot and remembrance. West Lafayette, IN : C-SPAN Archives, 2004.
The Greenwood Blues: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 / KOCO TV 5 Alive. Oklahoma City : KOCO TV 5 Alive.