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  • Writer's pictureNia Clark

Ep. 12: "Tulsa's Terrible Secret" and the Erasure of Black History

Photo Courtesy: Tulsa Historical Society and Museum

Up until the later part of the 20th century, there were sustained and concerted efforts to suppress the full truth of the Tulsa Race Riot, which is now acknowledged as the Tulsa Race Massacre. In the decades that followed, the attack was treated as taboo by both whites and blacks, by residents of Tulsa and government officials, by survivors of the massacre and their descendants. If it was addressed, often times the facts and circumstances surrounding the massacre were misconstrued and in many cases fabricated. Some descendants of survivors have said it was a matter of protecting future generations from enduring a similar tragedy. Others have said it was considered a black mark of shame for Tulsa and few perpetrators wanted to actually accept responsibility for such an event.  Dr. Scott Ellsworth - professor of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan and author of Death in a Promised Land, said quote, “The people who brought it up were threatened with their jobs; they were threatened with their lives.” The suppression of the Tulsa Race Massacre is emblematic of the frequency with which the erasure of black life and anything associated with it took place in the early part of the 20th century.”

Guests in this episode include, Texas journalist, writer and author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Tim Madigan. Shomari Wills, journalist and author of Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires. Listeners will also hear an audio recording of one of Tulsa's most legendary musicians, Clarence Love.

In This Episode:

Journalist and Author Tim Madigan.

Journalist and Author Shomari Wills

This massacre still largely went unknown among most Americans. Maybe, I would say, you know, when the book came out, it was widely viewed in all the right places. My sense is that white people just didn't want to read it. It's too painful and too ugly. When I finished the book, I knew at the deepest level of my being that we had a huge problem in this nation when it came to race. Basically unhealed wounds and unexplored issues. ~Tim Madigan

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Musical Attribution:

1. Glueworm Evening Blues (ID 994) by Lobo Loco License, disclaimer and copyrite information. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Linked to music:

2. Title: Driving to the Delta (ID 923) by Lobo Loco License, disclaimer and copywite information: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) to music:

3. Spirit Inside (ID 819) by Lobo Loco License, disclaimer and copyright information: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4. Link to music:

4. African Moon by John Bartmann Link to license, disclaimer and copyright information: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication to Music:

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