Was it really about race, or was it something more? In 1896, the Supreme Court sanctioned legal segregation to separate the black from the white races. This is why black touching white girls were considered a crime in 1921, even in the renowned “Black Wall Street” of Tulsa, Oklahoma where affluent African-Americans lived.
On one seemingly innocent day, a white girl named Sarah Page was operating the elevator when a black man named Dick Rowland went to use it. After a few minutes, a witness heard Page scream – and that was just the beginning. Several theories surround the event, but no one really knows what happened.
The Indescribable Terror
Even though Page did not file any complaint, Rowland was still arrested. The Tulsa Tribune even published his story claiming that he attacked the girl without any evidence, which spread like wildfire over the white community. During the evening of May 31, the day after his arrest, a huge white mob wreaked havoc over the African American Community. The fight was so devastating that white pilots even bombed the entire neighborhood.
Until this day, Tulsa and New York City are the only states who has ever experienced an aerial attack in the country.
The Heavily-Forgotten Community
The massacre lasted until the afternoon of June 1 where the black community was left with a wrecked 35-block neighborhood, two ravaged hospitals and 300 recorded deaths. The whole town was practically bombed off history. Rumors even reveal that they just crudely disposed the bodies in mass graves, or threw them in the Arkansas River or coal mines just to wipe off any evidence of the event.
Yes, it might be easier to just shrug this off as a riot race, but there is more to this massacre than meets the eye. After all, that was the most devastating act of domestic terrorism in the country after the Civil War.