Commemorating The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921

5 Things You Should Know About the Tulsa Race Riot

Reflecting on an American tragedy 100 years after it happened.

Allison Wiltz
Momentum
Published in
7 min readMay 25, 2021

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A Black couple walks across a street with smoke rising in the distance after the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Oklahoma Historical Society/Getty Images

The 1921 Tulsa Race Riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is believed to be one of the most violent racial events in American history. Over the course of several days, Greenwood, a prosperous Black community in Tulsa known as “Black Wall Street,” was burned to the ground by white vigilantes. Black and White people were killed during the riots.

The Greenwood community rose to prominence because of Black entrepreneurship. O.W. Gurley bought 40 acres of land in 1908. He separated them into plots, vowing to sell them to “negroes only.” By 1921, the community had blossomed with well-educated and successful Black families. Greenwood had a school, library, stores, hotels, a bowling alley, two newspapers, and even a newly minted Baptist church. There were Black doctors, dentists, lawyers. Elegant homes dotted the landscape. Many residents felt proud to call “Black Wall Street” or “Little Africa” their home.

But a set of events one Spring day would prove fatal or this prosperous Black community. Everything on Black Wall Street would soon be destroyed.

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Allison Wiltz
Momentum

Black womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder allisonthedailywriter.com https://ko-fi.com/allyfromnola