Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Tulsa Massacre Was Just the Tip of the Iceberg.

June 3, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( “For the first time anyone could remember, black men took out weapons and fired back. Whites returned fire in volley after volley.”- Description of one of several race riots in Philadelphia from the book Tasting Freedom Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America by Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin page113.

As we pause to remember and reflect on the centennial anniversary of the May 31, 1921 riot and massacre that occurred in the Greenwood section of Tulsa Oklahoma, we have to put that vicious terroristic event into proper historical perspective. The white rioting looting, plunder and murder that occurred on May 31, 1921 was not the only attack of its kind that happened in America; in fact it was characteristic of the racial animus that permeated this society for centuries!

The planned and coordinated Tulsa Oklahoma riot is part of the suppressed history of violence perpetrated on people of African decent in this country, whether it was on individuals (see the book Without Sanctuary Lynching Photography in America), families, neighborhoods and communities. This is the history US history books ignore and eschew teaching and discussing; it’s what opponents of “critical race theory” want to keep secret and unknown.

Tulsa Massacre - 2021 - 2021

 But truth crushed to earth shall rise again and that brutal history will become known. The truth is, within five years the Blacks who remained and returned in Tulsa had rebuilt Greenwood bigger and more prosperous than it was at the time of the massacre.

The April 2021 edition of Smithsonian magazine has several articles on the Tulsa Massacre and in 2019; BET News did an article on not just Tulsa but a handful of other communities that experienced devastating racial and politically motivated violence.  That article only mentioned: Colfax Louisiana 1873, Wilmington North Carolina 1898, Atlanta Georgia 1906, Elaine Arkansas 1919, Rosewood Florida 1923, but there is so much more.

As enlightening as this information is, it omits places like Philadelphia that experienced annual race riots from 1829 to 1844, or white mob violence in East St Louis Illinois and Houston Texas in 1917 or numerous white instigated urban riots in 1919 part of a wide ranging pattern of racial violence and attacks by whites against Blacks following WWI.

“‘The Red Summer’ of 1919 marked the culmination of steadily growing tensions surrounding the great migration of African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the North that took place during World War I. When the war ended in late 1918, thousands of servicemen returned home from fighting in Europe to find that their jobs in factories, warehouses and mills had been filled by newly arrived Southern Black people or immigrants. Amid financial insecurity, racial and ethnic prejudices ran rampant. Meanwhile, African-American veterans who had risked their lives fighting for the causes of freedom and democracy found themselves denied basic rights such as adequate housing and equality under the law, leading them to become increasingly militant…In this fraught atmosphere, the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan organization revived its violent activities in the South, including 64 lynchings in 1918 and 83 in 1919. In the summer of 1919, race riots would break out in Washington, D.C.; Knoxville, Tennessee; Longview, Texas; Phillips County, Arkansas; Omaha, Nebraska and–most dramatically–Chicago. The city’s African American population had increased from 44,000 in 1909 to more than 100,000 as of 1919. Competition for jobs in the city’s stockyards was particularly intense, pitting African Americans against whites (both native-born and immigrants). Tensions ran highest on the city’s South Side, where the great majority of Black residents lived, many of them in old, dilapidated housing and without adequate services.”

We are woefully ignorant of not only our own history, as Black people but also the foul history of this country when it comes to its treatment of indigenous peoples and people of color. We do not have time to get caught up in the whining of Negroes and whites fearful of the truth. The truth will make us free, free to do the necessary work to rid ourselves of the fear and hostility deeply rooted in this nation’s history, free to personally and collectively transform ourselves into better human beings who can create a better world; but until we know the truth we are inextricably doomed to repeat that sordid history generation after generation.

Staff Writer; George Love

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