Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tulsa OK 1921: US Government Bombs US City


National Guard troops patrolling the streets armed. Thousands of black people held in a convention center. Hundreds of black dead, with bodies piled like wood. That was not New Orleans, that was Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June 1921.

On May 30, 1921 a young black man named Dick Rowland, stumbled into a white woman, while entering an elevator. He was accused of assault, and arrested the next day. Newly rich from oil Tulsa, was a Ku Klux Klan town. Rowland was sentenced to be hanged. The Tulsa Tribune called for a "Negro lynching tonight."

The white mob was surprised when they were met by several dozen armed black men, dressed in their World War I uniforms. This led to a racist three day destruction of the black neighborhood of Greenwood. The Red Cross reported 300 mostly dead black people.

Greenwood called "Little Africa," was a relatively wealthy community. White mobs, many deputized, destroyed every house, store, church or school. The mob met resistance from an armed black population. Governor Robertson declared martial law. The National Guard arrived with machine gun mounted trucks, and airplanes hovering over Greenwood. It was the first time an American city was bombed from the air, by the US government.

Over 6,000 black people, were round up and held in the convention center and fairgrounds, as long as eight days. The homeless were shuttled into a tent city, where typhoid and malnutrition took over. Blacks were allowed out of the convention center, with a tag, with an employers name. Thosands fled the city.

Attempts to turn Greenwood into an industrial zone were unsuccessful. For several years, it was deprived of paved streets, running water, and garbage collection.

See: Tulsa Reparations Coalition and thank you to Internationalist Group for presenting this story in your newspaper.
RENEGADE EYE

39 comments:

Scottage said...

Great post, Eye! I didn't know about this story, and it's worth knowing about. I remember a city block getting bombed and burned to the ground by the government in my home town while I was growing up, an incident called the Move incident where Mayor Wilson Goode firebombed a group called the Afrikans family. But I had never heard of this. I will be looking for more information. Thanks for the insight!

Renegade Eye said...

The incident in Philadelphia, bombing MOVE headquarters, in the 1980s was the second US government bombing of Americans.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Oh sweet Jesus.

People are posting things that get me all distressed to day.

Scottage said...

You know about move? Way cool! I was a block away when it happened, and seemed to be in the middle of the surrounding contreversy for quite a while. So it always amazes me when people tel me they've never heard of it. And yet, almost no one has heard about it. So, I'm duly impressed!

Tina said...

Hmm... kinda makes me think of the wall near Eight Mile and Wyoming streets in Detroit that was built in the 1940s to separate black and white neighborhoods. Federal officials wouldn't grant mortgage loans until it was built. You can still see it today... although it is now covered in paintings and taggers' art work. Ya know, if "they" can't be gotten rid of by other means, let's just have gated communities and concrete walls so all know which line not to cross.

beatroot said...

Posts about history are cool! Nice one.

It makes me think of Notting Hill 1958: but then, I'm from the Deep South - that's Brixton, south London, UK.:-/

I know the racial nature of the poverty in Oklahoma was shocking (at least to me) etc, but it does show the US has come on some since then.

I mean, in those far off, bad old days they never had people like P Diddy and his great new fashion range!!!

sonia said...

It's curious. As you said, Tulsa's Greenwood was a relatively wealthy community. So was Rosewood in Florida. In fact most of those pogroms took place between 1915 and 1930 as Blacks were gradually trying to achieve economic parity with Whites (and until 1930, Blacks were slowly closing the gap). However, they quickly learned that while poor Blacks were left alone, rich Blacks become targets of KKK violence. Today's economic disparity between Blacks and Whites in the States can be traced back to that period. Blacks still haven't been able to close the gap that was created then.

Sangroncito said...

I was aware of this...thanks for sharing it with everyone. All Americans need to know the dark side of American history.

roman said...

Very interesting post. Greenwood was indeed a stain on the history of racial relations here in the US.
When reading about this most awful and frightening episode it does make me appreciate how far we have advanced to approach real equality between the races.

Bougie Black Boy said...

Your site is uniquely interesting. It makes us re-evaluate our present situation and be humbled at the same time. As such, I think that your articles and pictures allow us to see the fucked-up truths with which we live, but rarely want to recognize.

El Patro said...

Cool blog, Ren. I'll be sure to visit often.

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off topic... please go to my site... you've been tagged.

Will said...

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_2/mckay.html

Leylee said...

BEATROOT said "Blacks still haven't been able to close the gap that was created then."
the truth is we have, the government is trying to control blacks so thats why the riots happened. anyone interested should just research The Counter Intelligence Program. That alone is proof enough!

SixthRomeo said...

The 1920's horror in Tulsa Oklahoma is not to be refuted. It happened, and as others point out, similar occurences as well; none can be refuted. The problem with the 20's carnage in Tulsa is this, some sites give renderings as truthful as possible while others are horrifically distorted. Truth should always be served but not at the profiteering of carpet baggers. I, personally, do not know if the reparations set out in 1997 were made; some can claim that reparations for any single incident cannot stop. I would hope that is not the case because, if it is, peace will never come to this planet.

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