GIF animation: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images; Photo: Oklahoma Historical Society

Burning Black Wall Street: Images from the Tulsa Race Massacre

Airbombing Black people — as American as apple pie

John Wesley Williams, his wife, Loula Cotten Williams, and their son, William Danforth Williams, sitting in a 1911 Norwalk automobile. A sign advertising A.L. Black Printing Company, located at 114 S. Boston Ave. in Tulsa is visible in the background. John was an engineer for Thompson Ice Cream Company. Loula was a teacher in Fisher. The Williams family owned the 750-seat Dreamland Theatre, which opened in 1914 at 129 N. Greenwood Ave. and was destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre along with many other luxury shops, fine dining establishments, and entertainment venues. Photo: Tulsa Historical Society
(Left): The interior of the Mann Grocery of Tulsa in the 1920s. Owner John D. Mann stands in the middle of the image. The Mann Grocery was located at 820 N. Greenwood Ave. prior to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The 1922 Tulsa city directory lists the grocery at 534 E. King St. Mann and his wife, Sarah, lived at the same address. It is unknown at which address this photograph was taken. The back of the photo contains a handwritten inscription in pencil stating, “Return to Mrs. J.D. Mann.” Photo: Tulsa Historical Society (Right): The interior of Emma Buckner’s sewing shop located at 1120 N. Hartford Ave. in Tulsa before the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The photograph shows two African American women seated behind Singer sewing machines. A row of completed dresses is visible on the right. The back of the photograph contains a handwritten note in pencil stating, “Emma Buckner — Loss 700.00, 1120 Hartford. The photo was taken just before the riot. This complete outfit with every dress in it burned. Widow — five children under 16, 1–17.” Photo: Tulsa Historical Society
Little Africa on fire in Tulsa during the race riot on June 1, 1921. Photo: American National Red Cross photograph collection, Library of Congress
Black people found alive or trying to flee were led to the Convention Hall during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The front of the postcard contains the printed caption, “Captured Negros [sic] on Way to Convention Hall — During Tulsa Race Riot June 1st 1921.” Witnesses and survivors used the words “concentration camp” to describe the experience to the Tulsa Race Riot Commission. The people held captive were not allowed to bury their dead. Photo: Tulsa Historical Society
Black newspapers were the lifeline of the community. It’s no wonder the mob made sure the ‘Tulsa Star’ burned all the way to the ground. The caption on the image reads: “Tulsa Negro Uprising. Home of the Tulsa Star. Colored Newspaper.” Photo: Clearance E. Jack, Oklahoma Historical Society
A Black man wearing a suit and a hat is carrying a camera while he looks at the skeletons of iron beds that rise above the ashes of a burned-out block after the Tulsa Race Massacre in June 1921. Photo: Oklahoma Historical Society/Getty Images
(Left): Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa as seen in an Oct. 11, 2018, photo. Last fall, archeologists and forensic anthropologists used sonar to locate a mass grave that is believed to be connected to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Family oral histories are being used to locate other potential mass gravesites. Photo: Mike Simons/Tulsa World/AP (Right): Researchers and City of Tulsa workers dig at Oaklawn Cemetery during a test excavation searching for possible mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre on July 13, 2020. Photo: Mike Simons/Tulsa World/AP
Historic buildings on Greenwood—the historic Black Wall Street—house new businesses in Tulsa on February 12, 2019. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which wiped out the African American business district that stretched along Greenwood Avenue from the Santa Fe Railroad tracks as far north as Pine Street. Photo: John Clanton/Tulsa World/AP

Director, Multicultural @Medium. Focusing on ZORA, Momentum, Level and bolstering creators of color. All ideas welcome. And yes, I’ll still be writing.

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