Ep. 6: Black Wall Street Burning
Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Photo Courtesy: Tulsa Historical Society and Museum
Between May 31st and June 1st of 1921, what the Oklahoma Historical Society calls quote, "the single worst incident of racial violence in American history," claimed the lives of potentially hundreds of people and left an entire community in Tulsa, Oklahoma completely decimated. That community, known as Greenwood - an African American district in North Tulsa, suffered a brutal attack by a white mob, which resulted in a horrific scene of chaos, destruction and bloodshed. The area, with a population of about 10,000 at the time, according to the historical society, had been considered one of the most affluent African American communities in the United States for the early part of the 20th century. For that reason it earned the name Black Wall Street.
Although the attack was decades in the making, allegations of assault coupled with boiling racial tensions and inflammatory newspaper articles are widely believed to be the cataclysmic events that sparked the attack.
“What people don't realize, it wasn't just bombs. There were people stationed in strategic locations with machine guns shooting in all different directions while bombs are being dropped, while arson is being committed, while murders are happening." ~Dr. Alicia Odewale, University of Tulsa associate professor.
Multimedia Journalist and TV Reporter, Nia Clark, interviews: Dr. Scott Ellsworth, writer, historian and professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan; Hannibal B. Johnson, attorney, consultant and author of Black Wall Street.; and Dr. Alicia Odewale, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tulsa. In this episode, listeners will hear audio recordings of interviews with two survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, including William Danforth Williams as well as Eunice Jackson. A special thanks to the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum for allowing the use of their archival audio recordings in this episode.
Dr. Scott Ellsworth, writer, historian and University of Michigan Afroamerican and African Studies professor.
Dr. Alicia Odewale, University of Tulsa Anthropology associate professor.
Hannibal B. Johnson, attorney, author and consultant.
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Rough Episode Transcription
What are you afraid? Didn't shoot it. Cause I didn't get it. I know. What are you doing? A lot of Carrie, because I was walking down an ad that run it ran right into a guy with a shotgun. All right. There.
I put up my hands and he cites me
and took me around on the street. They have season down an alley street of Greenland,
all the killing going on. Oh,
back up, stand back and gave me in the back way. Opposition
those words you just heard. If I'm an audio recording of an interview with William Danforth Williams, about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, courtesy of the Oklahoma historical society. We heard from Williams earlier in this podcast. He was a survivor of the massacre. William's parents were John and Lola Williams.
The Williams were a prominent family that lived in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time of the massacre also known as black wall street, they owned a confectionary, the dreamland theater. And a garage among other things. Their businesses were destroyed in the attack on Greenwood,
in partnership with the Tulsa race massacre, Centennial commission. I'm Mia Clark. And this is black wall street, 1921.
In this episode, we're taking a deep dive into the Tulsa race massacre. Now you're going to hear another Tulsa race massacre, survivor named unis Jackson. Give her account of the attack during an interview with author and historian, Eddie vacates, courtesy of the Tulsa historical society and museum.
But when the riots came in 19 and 21, we will sit not in the yard and people are running toward us Hollins. So my mom and dad up, she says, what's wrong? Where are you people doing? He said they have not raised right over the Hill. I was drinking out here. Well then, and my mom said, why are you running? Did they go?
They just shooting everybody. They can. So they came with, through the yard so fast. We told him I'm going to get your bag. Let's go to, cause these people are running less wrong and they stopped us out on pine and Greenwood. At that time, it was called the section line and all this just great crowds of us stopped out there, becomes the police medicine.
And then they've launched us down to the convention hall. I'm sorry, we stayed there all afternoon. They had popped and sandwiches sauce. So later on that evening, we were allowed to go home and they said, if you have a home. You can go. So we left the home that was on Lashelle street then and Elgin. So we got out to start home and a lot of, I had a little bag with my brother's gun in it.
And so when we started out, as he said, once you got in that bag and she said, well, these are my belonged with this. Let me see what you got. So she had to open it up or just a lot of white folks standing around us with guns and they took my brother's gun and said, you don't need this. So we went on home and we had some poor white people, neighbors.
Yeah. And when they were coming to our house of five, soon as they put the bucket in there, but to find it and walk off these old white people would go over and put the five. That's how we happen to have a home.
Between May 31st and June 1st of 1921, what the Oklahoma historical society calls quote the single worst incident of racial violence in American history in quote claimed the lives of potentially hundreds of people and left an entire community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, completely decimated. That community known as Greenwood and African American district in North Tulsa suffered a brutal attack by a white mob, which resulted in a horrific scene of chaos destruction and bloodshed the area with a population of about 10,000 people at the time, according to the historical society had been considered one of the most affluent African American communities in the United States.
For the early part of the 20th century, for that reason, it earned the name black wall street. Although the Tulsa race massacre was really decades in the making. And the last episode we explored the incident that sparked the attack on May 31st, which involved allegations that a 19 year old African American man who went by the name of Dick Roland assaulted or raped over a 70 year old Caucasian girl named Sarah Page.
Those allegations. Turned out to be false. But before that was revealed, a number of sensationalized articles were published in Tulsa's largest newspapers for years. Legend has it that one of those articles included one published by the Tulsa Tribune with a headline that read to Lynch a Negro tonight, however, no actual record or evidence of that article exists.
Yet multiple survivors and witnesses claim to have read it, including William Danforth Williams, who you heard from in the beginning of this episode, take a listen to Williams describing the article and how he believes it. Inflames. The circumstances that occurred just before the massacre.
Um, the threat to
Lynch that was red. I remember it's like I was sitting here tonight and night now, reading that, that why I hadn't bought this two ages ago. So the blacks, by the time here by red
meat, they went down to see it by some money. Clearly he was the minister, just like Marshall back then. I thought he was a wonderful man.
I saw a fellow have a gun on anything, but anyway, take that gun down and you told them and got them. So I didn't press him. We'd been down. Um, he was at T. Sheriff Hill and all this crap. So they would tell him it wouldn't be Iraq. It wouldn't be any lynched. I don't mind going back home. I said, I'm going to stay here to seeds.
So they always know I'd wait. And I guess about a block away, somebody by the shot, black and white. and then write down, it's all. He'll cut that loose and he fought all night next morning. We're trying to come in on Greenwood, surrounded the place. And the militia came in, they were around in the blacks.
Get there, get them rounded up, would stop. They would see what happened. They would lie. Those fellows come in mine. Yeah. Tanium blacks it's around it. They let him come in, but that's the way they claim. And this girl said the blood shot or rape on the elevator. It broke away building.
I think Nate was really interested in finding that front page of the Tribune paper told me she knew when she had seen her.
You remember the headlines on the paper that night to Lynch Negro. Tonight. That was the headline, the article. That's why I always want to be out of me.
Oh, that's my wife's right. Check them before you would go to that detail.
Anyway, this girl,
have you met ms. Avery? Have you seen that way? Yeah. I don't think Dave has been able to, the rational the Tribune had, or the microfilm is not there.
Even in Oklahoma city,
we've established that to date. There are not any known records or evidence of the Tulsa Tribune article entitled to Lynch a Negro tonight. But you're about to hear from an expert who has interviewed several people who claim to have read it, including. William Danforth Williams, who you just heard from, but first dr.
Scott Ellsworth will give us a recap of what we explored in the last episode. And later introduce us to the beginning of the Tulsa race massacre.
Alright, so dr. Scott elsewhere, you are a professor. At the university of Michigan, you teach in the department of Afro American and African studies. You're also a writer and a historian, and you've been steeped in research and knowledge surrounding TOSA and the Tulsa race massacre for many decades. You are from Tulsa, grew up in Tulsa.
What made you even become interested in this subject matter in the first place? Well, you know, as a kid growing up in Tulsa in the late sixties, I can tell you that even though my family history, doesn't go back to the 1920s and Tulsa. We just go back to the 1930s. Occasionally you would hear adults talking about this and sort of going hushed tones.
And, uh, you know, then when you'd come into the room, they would quiet down or they would not same out. So, you know, that's a way to pique a child's interest. There was also in the white community. You know, some bits of kind of urban folklore that went around one was that there were bodies floating down the Arkansas river.
Another that there were machine guns set up on the top of some of the hotels downtown. So I heard these stories as a child, you know, and then in the eighth grade we did have a textbook and there was a mention of the Wyatt, but it was very glossed over and it was sort of, well, there was an implement elevate or them, some people kind of got out of hand, some shots were fired.
Some stuff was burned and then the good white citizens of Tulsa rebuild everything. And it wasn't until college that I started to really look into the riot and to try to figure out what had happened. And so that's been a journey ever since if we could just jump ahead now to the night or the day, rather that Dick Roland is arrested on May 30th and then on May 31st, there's a Tulsa Tribune, editorial.
And on the front page, we know that there's a article called NAB Negro for attacking girl and elevator. But throughout the years there have been. Accounts by witnesses, survivors of another article to Lynch a Negro tonight, we have not been able to find that article. It seems that no record of it actually exists.
And some people have called into question whether or not it actually ever existed. However, This article is largely blamed for inciting a lot of the angst that led to the massacre in the first place. Can you talk about what you found in your research regarding that editorial? I can, but I think it's important if we've kind of set this up.
So just to make sure we've got everything right. So it's on Monday, May 30th, where there is this incident in the elevator, and we know that Dick Roland rides the elevator, as he always would to use the African American bathroom on the top floor of the Drexel building. There's this young white female elevator operator.
Sarah Paige is running it. And we know at some point something happens, Sarah Page screams. Dick Wallen runs out of the elevator, runs out the building and presumably runs home. We also know that a white clerk at the REM Berg's clothing store came to the conclusion that Roland must've tried to attack. So a page that this was a sexual assault.
Okay. So the police or summit, so black and white detective show up at the Drexel building. They interview everyone, but the police aren't super worried about this. They don't send out an all points bulletin that don't policemen to Dick Roland's home to try and find him and arrest him. The police seem to be dealing with this in a very calm manner.
The next morning, Tuesday, May 31st, the police do go and arrest. Well, Linda and brings him to the courthouse and he's putting the jail on the top four, but it seems that the wheels of justice from the side of the police at this point, nobody's panicking. This is going very slowly. That afternoon Tulsa's white afternoon newspaper.
The Tulsa Trivium takes a completely different take on this. This was a newspaper that was run by a gentlemen. By the name of Richard Lloyd Jones. It was very much what we would call on the form of yellow journalism. In those days, Gary, some station listed out to sell papers out, to take on that morning Tulsa world.
So what happens is the bulldog edition of the May 31st pulse. The Tribune comes out at about three 30. Alright on the front page. There's that small article three paragraphs or whatever long. It is NAB Negro for attacking girl on the elevator. Okay. But we also know that on the editorial page, there was an editorial titled to Lynch Negro.
Tonight. I interviewed Debbie D Williams, who was a ride survivor and others who read that article. Describe what was in it to me. There were other sources after the massacre arrived. Black and white sources that alluded to it as well. Okay. So we'd have the text of that front page article since then it 40 cents a master's at the university of Tulsa named Lauren Gill wrote his thesis on underlying.
And then I can seventies when I was beginning work on my bachelor's thesis underlying, which became my book. I eventually. Convinced the editors and owners at the Tulsa Trivium to allow me to go to those stores facility. Somewhere on the West side, I can't remember where and to go through the old bound volumes of the Tulsa Tribune, and there's just one set of things.
And this one set was done later, Microsoft by the works progress administration. And then I two thirties. And so I found the volume for the May, 1921 Tulsa Tribune. And that front page article had been cut out. And then the editorial page had been removed as well. And if you look on microfilm, the library, Congress copies, you will see that these things are missing.
So whoever tried to hide that first article. Tried to hide the editorial as well, and we don't have them, but in a way it sort of makes sense that we don't. So it is my belief that after that first edition, the Tulsa Tribune, or later that day realized that perhaps this accrual had gone overboard at any rate, they quit publishing it.
But the fact is that the big headlines on the riot are not on May 31st. They're once the wind has begun there on June 1st. So everyone talks about, you know, we would say the newspaper where Kennedy died and we take, you know, Jonathan Kelly was assassinated on November 22nd, 1923, but the papers that most people have upstairs in the attic or from the next day when it was a headline.
So it makes sense that first edition was not kept. That being said, the newspaper hits the streets. Tulsa Tribune hits the streets within a half an hour. There's limps talks on the streets of Tulsa. That is why the editorial is seen as the catalyst for the actual attack on Greenwood. Yeah, but the other thing that we have to remember is that one year earlier there was a white ex telephone worker by the name of Roy Belton ward Belton.
Two of his comrades had hired a taxi cab in downtown Tulsa. To take them out to a dance out of red Ford, but their real intention was to Rob the taxi driver. And not only did they Rob the taxi driver, but allegedly, apparently Belton shot the driver in the stomach. And kicked them out in the road for him to die.
And they stole the camp. Well, this murder was, you know, it was just called the most cold hearted murder in the Southwest gigantic newspaper headlines, all in the Tulsa world and whatnot. What turned out is that this became one of these dis sensational crime, like the central park five or something like that.
So the cab driver hangs on for a few days, Dalton was arrested. He's brought to the cab driver who identifies him, the cab driver then dies. And then there's articles in the white newspapers about how Delta is going to deplete insanity that he's going to get off from this case. He won't be tried. And what happens is after one of these articles, a group of mass white men show up outside the courthouse in whose top floor jail Belton was held.
They convinced the sheriff to hand over the prisoner. The Tulsa police force is nowhere to be seen a caravan of cars, perhaps two or three miles long, then drives across the river, takes Belton to the spot where the taxi driver was shot. And then Delton was lynched. So you've got this wide accused criminal lynched by a white Lynch mob, but the Tulsa police help him out.
Okay. What's astonishing is what happened. This is one year before the ride. Is that in the newspapers of the day? The city leaders in Tulsa, the mayor, the chief of police, everyone essentially applauded the lynching saying this will show the criminal element. That's the law and abiding citizens of Tulsa mean business.
We're not going to have any of this stuff. And the scene was celebrated. The only place it's not celebrated is in the African American community. There have been no blacks limps in Tulsa at this point. And there's very much a feeling now amongst the black community, that if an African American is taken prisoner, that the authorities cannot be relied upon.
Okay. Keep this person from being mixed. So that's in the back of everyone's mind when Dick Roland is picked up and then take him to the jail. And this Lynch talk begins and they Lynch mobs starts to gather in Tulsa, laying on the afternoon and early on the evening of May 31st. And so when that happens, we also are seeing sort of this vigilante ism that has already existed in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma for many years, where sort of the local law enforcement officials will sort of deputize some civilians and just give them almost free reign to go out and act as extensions of law enforcement.
And. It is in that vein that the KU Klux Klan also sees a rise in their membership as well. So all of this contributing to that very tense situation and almost this sense of duty, I think that some perpetrators of the massacre, the tackle and Grievant had. To write whatever wrong that they believe happened because essentially law enforcement has been sanctioning this type of behavior for some time.
Now it is. Although things don't quite play out exactly that way on that night, because what happens is there's a brand new surf now. So you have this surf Willard Macola was Lilly McCullough, unlike his predecessor. As this Lynch mob gathered 50 people, a hundred people, 200, 300, 400 gathering around the courthouse and waiting for this lump sum to begin Makala rather than his predecessor has decided he's going to defend Dick Roland.
So he puts his officers on the roof and on the top floor armed with shotguns, he disables the elevators in the courthouse. He blocks the stairs and he's not going to give up GIC Wella to a Lynch mob. Okay. So this is moon. So the crowd starts to grow in Greenwood. There was great. Some songs starts to go, you know, we have a accounts of African American women to probably, uh, to, uh, start to gather and say, we're not going to let this happen here.
An African American world war one jumps on the stage at the William's Greenland theater and says, shut this place down. We're not going to happen. So what happens is it about seven o'clock that evening? A group of 25 black men armed with white poles and shotguns. Uh, some of them were in their world war one uniforms, get some the cars and they go down to the courthouse.
They present themselves to the sheriff and say, we are here to help defend the prisoner. They help you defend the prisoner. The sheriff tells them, get the hell out of it. And they go back to Greenville. But their appearance, absolutely enrages, the white moth, who was there to go see a legend. And now the whites.
Now they go home to get guns. They've seen black men with guns, a group of whites, twice to break into the national park armory to steal the Springfield white folks that are there. And they're going to get prepared and it's necessary to storm the jail. So lots of rumors as the hours go by the white mob grows.
They want more things to happen. And then around 10 o'clock that night is false. Women get screened with that. The whites are storming the jail to Lynch Dick Roland. And so this time a group of 75 black men armed with life just and shot guns. Once again, in a caravan at bars, go down to the courthouse, present themselves to chef McCullough and say, we're here to help defend the prisoner McAuliffe.
Again, tells him to get out of here as through leaving an elderly white man attempts to disarm a black wards that I shot guns off. The Wyatt or massive group begins. But it's important to remember that at that moment, the mob doesn't care about Dick Roland anymore. Nobody's going to bother rolling. He's gone.
Now. There is certainly at the 75 black men, but it soon becomes this deep racial hatred, any person of color at all,
an excerpt from the book black wall street. Written by attorney, author, and consultant, Hannibal B Johnson, who we heard from in the last episode, within the nationwide context of lynchings and civil unrest and in the face of an international push for rights for persons of African descent, the Tulsa race riot of 1921 occurred at that time, the worst race ride in American history, the riot abruptly halted the steady growth and momentum of the Greenwood district.
In a matter of hours, ignorance, fear, and hate dims. The bright lights of hope that had shown for years, daylight turned to dusk, dusk to darkness, undercover of that darkness. All manner of unspeakable, unimaginable atrocities came to pass fires, raged, dozens scores, perhaps hundreds of lives were lost in the calamity.
The unchecked mob driven lawlessness. Lasted less than 24 hours, less than a full day. But what a difference a day makes more than 1000 homes raised scores of black owned businesses, ransacked and looted, African American churches in a 35 block area, defiled, defaced, and destroyed. Property losses far exceeded the initial seven figure estimates from the black dispatch newspaper dated June 10th, 1921 quote, in the loss of over 700 homes and 200 business houses and Negroes of Tulsa have sustained a loss of over $4 million.
Two of the finest hotels that the Negros own in America went up in smoke. The welcome grocery store carried as large as stock of groceries as did any retail white store in Tulsa, mrs. Williams, who owned the dreamland theaters in Tulsa, Muskogee and Ocmulgee was perhaps one of the foremost Negro business women in the United States.
She has one, three story brick on Greenwood, which housed her big confectionary. And the other floors were used for offices for the professional men of the race. Farther down the street was her theater, the pride of the Negroes at the city. The street had located on it. Three drug stores and two newspaper plants.
The Tulsa star had a plant worth fully $15,000, fully 150 business houses lined this street alone that required a Negro traffic officer to stand in the streets all day long, directing the busy activities. And some African Americans experienced double-barreled devastation, the loss of a home and a business in the riot among this number were Oh, w Gurley and his wife, Emma theirs was the first business to locate on Greenwood Avenue, disheartened by the loss of the home and business.
They had worked so hard for. The girlies did not rebuild beyond its monumental physical devastation in terms of persons and property lost. The riot also took a psychological toll, too heavy to measure even with the grandest of scales so much was lost so quickly. So senselessly the pride of a tight knit community, savagely, wrenched away.
The pride of a tight knit community savagely branched away
here again is Hannibal beach Johnson.
A large white mob flooded into the Greenwood district, the black community looting burning, destroying very much everything in sight. There was some black resistance initially, but the black community was totally outnumbered. And so in the end, when the violence was quelled by the national guard, the next day on the afternoon of June 1st, 1921, we believe that somewhere between 100 and 300 people had lost their lives.
Property damage range from 1.5 to $2 million conservatively estimated, which would be well beyond $25 million in today's money. The whole 35 square blocks, which was the Greenwood community was decimated by fire and by violence, many black families spent days, months. Weeks living in tent cities set up by the red cross and black people were actually interned during this period.
I'll be at briefly and ostensibly for their own protection intern. Like people of Japanese ancestry were interned during world war II. In your book, black wall street, which is a really good book. And I suggest folks read it. If they have it, you had some eyewitness accounts from survivors. Can you just recount briefly what some of the survivors were describing, uh, when the massacre was happening right in front of their eyes.
You know, it's interesting. I, I think most, most of those witnesses to that tragedy and travesty talk about. Fear of the lack of security and safety that we so often take for granted the sort of puzzlement as to the ability of one human being to treat another human being this way as something less than human.
That the thing that most of the survivors that I engage with wanted most was. They have their story told as a matter of record, because the thing that added insult to injury after the massacre was the failure to acknowledge that the massacre had occurred. This history has been omitted historically from textbooks and the regular curriculum.
It has not been talked about widely until relatively recently, the last couple of three, couple to three decades. And so telling the story, being honest about our history is critically vitally important. Because we can't get to that point of reconciliation or unity that we would like to achieve, unless we acknowledge our full and complete history and work to heal that history so that we can establish the trust we need to build.
The relationships that undergird, that kind of unity and reconciliation that we want.
The exact scope of the Tulsa race massacre is hard to put into words. Or numbers, dr. Alicia of the university of Tulsa does a good job of doing just that.
So dr. Alicia Odo Wiley, you are an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at the university of Tulsa. And your background is pretty interesting as it relates to our topic, which is the Tulsa race massacre, your research project mapping historical trauma in Tulsa. From 1921 to 2021 re analyze this historical evidence to visualize what happened to Greenwood during the massacre and the years that followed, explain what all that means.
Yeah. So the mapping historical trauma project that came about with the Centennial commission to basically try and connect the dots between past what has happened in Tulsa to today, because there's a lot of, I'll say changes that have happened in terms of the boundaries of Greenwood and really it's shrunk and imprint.
Now. We have to really think about what the original boundaries of this neighborhood and this historic district was. And think about how that's changed through time through not only the, if of the massacre, but the lingering impacts of our lowest equality indicators, where the city of Tulsa are all around North Tulsa, specifically black residents in North Tulsa and the ongoing issues with gentrification, urban renewal, and other sort of social factors that have impacted.
The boundaries of this historic district. So we're going to put new historical evidence, but also new archeology and grade would have for the first time to thinking about exactly how this community has changed over a hundred years and how we can connect the past and the present together. Speaking of the actual assault on Greenwood, something you wrote recently in the Atlantic caught my eye because anybody who's watched Watchmen on HBO knows what I'm talking about.
So in a 2019 article in the Atlantic, you were quoted as saying, quote, the total estimated financial loss, taking into account. The destruction of both private residential property in the business district would be about. 50 to $100 million in today's currency. The article goes on to say, quote, The neighborhood, in addition to being subjected to the, on the ground, assault was bombed from above by planes, carrying white assailants.
So that's a lot, let's unpack that first. We did see in Watchmen on HBO, we did see a scene where it looked like the district of Greenwood was in fact being bombed by planes that were flying overhead. However, There hasn't really been any concrete evidence, at least from what most of the people who've researched, this have found.
So is there anything that we're missing that would actually suggest that yes. People in Greenwood, not only were their houses burned, not only were they murdered, but they were bombed. Yeah. I think a lot of the evidence for that comes from testimonies, from survivors. They're survivors have spilled about this for years and years and years, but I think HBO really made people sit up and pay attention.
So it's like once you visualize this and, you know, put your Hollywood special effects on it, it becomes that much more real for some people. But for others, they've known this for generations. And these were specifically turpentine bombs that were dropped on this unity. And so what people don't really realize is that it wasn't just.
Bombs. There are people stationed in specific strategic locations with machine guns, shooting in all different directions while bombs are being dropped, while arson is being committed, while murders are happening, people are being shot. And so there was chaos all around. So that opening scene of Watchman.
It doesn't really do the real story justice because you're seeing people still being able to move throughout the city in broad daylight. And a lot of this is happening in the dark of night and into the early hours of the morning. So thinking about this in pitch black darkness, while this chaos is raining down on you and you are searching for family members, you're searching for anything you have, you literally are wondering where to run in the middle of the night.
So that's pretty scary and terrifying. So, what you're saying is the Watchman scene is not really as realistic it's maybe we thought it was because the timing is a little off in Watchman. This was happening during the daylight, but you're saying this is happening in the dark of night. And so that's just sounds like war.
I mean, it's so hard to imagine. That's the only word that comes to mind is just war. Yeah. Yeah. And it really was because the people that were in Greenwood trying to basically protect this community from being burned to the ground, many of those are black veterans home from world war one. So there was literally this effort to try and preserve life after fighting for their freedom and their preserving life from the very people they were fighting.
To protect in terms of their democratic rights. So it's ironic on a number of levels was also sad that these veterans came home to a war after surviving a war themselves. Wow. You know, one of the things that I've read a lot when researching this subject is that during that time of heightened racial tensions, there were a lot of world war, veterans African-American and world war veterans who, when they were fighting in the war expected to come back and be respected more so than they had when they left, because they were fighting for their.
Country and they were Patriots and they got home. And quite honestly, the opposite happened for most people. If you know of an instance where a black soldier was treated better when he came home, then before he left, let me know. But as far as I can tell, the actual opposite happened. Across the board for the majority of African American veterans and some of the hostility from what I've read towards African-Americans specifically had to do with the fact that black men were being allowed into the army and being allowed to fight in a war because.
People who were segregationists, for example, and some outright racist, they knew that these people were going to demand more respect because this is an honorable thing you're doing. Right. And so with that comes respect. And so the idea was to keep them in their place. Yes. And so when you're saying this, it just makes so much sense and not what new lessons, several decades later, we know part of the reason the civil rights movement was started was because a black man came home from the war and within hours was beaten to brightness.
He actually gotten to some sort of verbal altercation with a bus driver who I believe wanted him to sit in a certain location. And the NAACP used him sort of as an example, to shine a light on what was happening to the veterans of that time to be clear, the man I'm talking about his name is Isaac Woodard.
Isaac would, or jr. Born. Wow. This is interesting. Isaac would jr. A black veteran was born March 18th in 1919, and we know 1919 is also known as red summer because of, yeah. All of these so-called race riots, which many of them would probably not be classified as massacres as well were happening. And it was so violent.
It was such a violent summer on top of all the lynchings that were happening, that they nicknamed it. Right. Some are. So he died. Interestingly enough. On September 23rd in 1992. So that's a long life. He lived considering that he was a decorated African-American world war II veteran, and on February 12th, 1946 hours.
After being honorably discharged from the U S army, he was attacked while still in uniform by South Carolina police, as he was taking a bus home, the attack. And his injuries sparked national outrage and thus galvanized the civil rights movement. Hmm. I just wonder if, because we do know that initially when the first group and the second wave of black men left Greenwood and came down to the courthouse where Dick Rolan was being held.
Some of them were veterans, right? Yeah. So then that must have really made people who were racist and segregationist angry. I can only imagine. Absolutely. I like the way you're describing, because there's a war because while, once I do have these. Powerful black veterans and many people who aren't veterans, but still just as passionate about protecting their home and lives and families.
There are people on the other side of this because Tulsa had one of the largest chapters of the KKK known in the country. So there's a lot of tension that was already there even before Dick Roman's case came up and there was this. Consistent narrative, especially among residents in Greenwood because they know everything that's happening around the nation, but they have this sort of mantra, not here.
This will not happen here and not again. So there's this sort of like, I don't know, mission on behalf of a lot of the men, women and children in Greenwood that we're going to protect our home and our, our right to exist in this sort of free black space. Again, back to that Atlantis article in 2019, you mentioned that taking into account the destruction of both private residential property in the business district would be about 50 to $100 million in today's currency.
How did you come up with that? And, Oh my gosh. Yeah. So my estimates are coming from not only the loss of the homes, which is over a thousand homes that were lost in businesses. So you have the loss of specific property, but also the loss of lives. And there's no way to put a number on the loss of life, but there's also the loss of safety.
And the loss of security and the loss of generational wealth. So you're less able to actually pass down land or pass down that wealth and income that you would have accrued if you were just able to live undisrupted in this space. My figure is also coming from the loss of objects and the loss of goods, the loss of services and the loss of.
Familial connections because a lot of people moved and just never came back to the city of Tulsa. And there's a lot of people who had to repack them, everything. And people aren't even considering the loss of vehicles because people had to scrimp savings to secure vehicles. It was a very rare thing to have in 1920s.
So in terms of loss of property vehicles, personal objects and personal memorabilia, family photos and everything that constructs your life. And the number of people that were living here over 10,000 people living in the district of Greenwood.
Once again, Tulsa, race massacre, survivor you niece Jackson.
The ride was a terrible thing that people were just running. They didn't have any homes to go to the ghost of white people, burned all the homes down the businesses and everything on green book, but then members here in Tulsa came back and build it. What you see now today? Because we would love them.
Then they're outstanding little town. They had lots of kid in here I have on Greenwood. And when mama first started bringing us up here before we moved, the, uh, Porter was saved when he got to RJ and reading her all I for touch whole time green, but street, the battling ground. And that was on everybody's mind then.
in the next episode, we'll continue our deep dive into the Tulsa race massacre, and you'll hear from a descendant of a survivor of the massacre. Be sure to check out our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages by searching for black wall street, 1921. And make sure you also visit our website www.black wall street, hyphen 1920 one.com where you can sign up for our newsletter and keep up with all of our episodes.
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