What Was The Tulsa Massacre?

In late May of 1921, white groups attacked and destroyed Tulsa, Oklahoma’s prosperous black neighborhood, known as Greenwood, or Black Wall Street.

Historian Scott Ellsworth told Inside Edition Digital that in less than 24 hours, “More than 1,000 African-American homes and businesses were looted and burned to the ground by a white mob numbering in the thousands.”

In what has been called "the single worst incident of racial violence in American history, thousands lost their homes, and an unknown number lost their lives. Many survivors left Tulsa, while black and white residents who stayed in the city were silent for decades about the terror, violence, and losses of this event. The massacre was largely omitted from local, state, and national histories.

In 1996, seventy-five years after the massacre, a bipartisan group in the state legislature authorized formation of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. The Commission's final report, published in 2001, said that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens; it recommended a program of reparations to survivors and their descendants. The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, encourage economic development of Greenwood, and develop a memorial park in Tulsa to the massacre victims. In 2020, the massacre became part of the Oklahoma school curriculum.

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