Environmental Products (7)
Black Wall Street
One Of The Worst Race Riots In Our Nation’s History Occurred In Tulsa.
“I took my little girl by the hand and fled out the west door on Greenwood. I did not take time to gat a hat for myself or baby, but started out north in Greenwood, running amidst showers of bullets from the machine gun located in the granay and from the men who were quickly surrounding our district.” — Mary E. Jones Parrish,, An eye-witness account of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot 1
According to the Tulsa Tribune, the National Guard mounted two machine guns
and fired into the area. Black Americans surrendered and were disarmed.
They were taken in columns to Convention Hall, the McNulty Baseball Park, the Fairgrounds and to a flying field during the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. 2
“The Worse Civil Disturbance Since The Civil War.” 3
“Personal belongings and household goods had been removed from many homes and piled in the streets. On the steps of the few houses that remained sat feeble and gray Negro men and women and occasionally a small child. The look in their eyes was one of dejection and supplication. Judging from their attitude, it was not of material consequence to them whether they lived or died. Harmless themselves, they apparently could not conceive the brutality and fiendishness of men who would deliberately set fire to the homes of their friends and neighbors and just as deliberately shoot them down in their tracks.” — Tulsa Daily World, June 2, 1921 4
Commonly known as “Black Wall Street,” the racially segregated district of Greenwood in Tulsa was one of the most affluent All-Black Communities in the United States of America. 5 In its day, Greenwwod served as a powerful economic model of market-based approaches to abject poverty through private ownership, conservative values and self-sufficiency for Black Americans only one generation away from over four hundred (400) years of chattel antebellum slavery. 6 The area encompassed a population of 15,000 Black Americans. 7 However, in a matter of a fourteen (14) hour period, from Tuesday, May 31st, 1921 to Wednesday, June 1st, 1921, one of the worst race riots in the history of our nation destroyed a once thriving, thirty-five (35) square block Black Business District in northern Tulsa, Oklahoma. 8 In the end, 10,000 Black Americans were homeless, over 800 injuries were reported and over 600 successful Black Businesses were lost. 9 Among these businesses were twenty-one (21) churches, twenty-one (21) restaurants, thirty (30) grocery stores and two (2) movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. 10 1,256 homes were reported burned and another 215 looted. 11 Property damage estimates ranging from 1.5 to 2 million dollars were reported which would amount to over twenty-one (21) million dollars in today’s money. 12 Of the thirty-seven (37) death certificates, twenty-five (25) were for Black males and twelve (12) for white males. While the true death toll will probably never be known, nine (9) Black victims were burned beyond recognition and could not identified. 13
Part One: Findings
On The Way To A Segregated “Colored” Restroom …
Tulsa Tribune Headline: “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator”
“I shined shoes with Dick Rowland. He was an orphan and had quit school to take care of himself. The Drexel Building was the only place downtown where we were allowed to use the restroom. Dick was a quite kind of fella. Never in no trouble. When he went to use the bathroom…in the elevator he slipped and bumped her, she screamed, he ran, and was accused of raping a white woman. “In broad daylight?” The Tribune wrote a story that triggered the crowd at the Court House: “To lynch a Negro tonight.” The Tribune called him “Diamond Dick.” Me, or nobody on Greenwood ever heard that name for him before. They invented it. Dick Rowland was poor as me. Neither of us probably ever saw a real diamond.” — Robert Fairchild, Sr., The oral account of a Black American eyewitness of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 14
Tulsa, Oklahoma was a segregated city where Jim Crow practices were live and legal. Black Americans were not allowed to use toilet facilities used by White people. 15 There was no separate facility for Black Americans at the shoeshine parlor where Dick Rowland worked. 16 So the owner of the parlor arranged for Black American employees to use the segregated “Colored” restroom on the top floor of the nearby Drexel Building at 319 S. Main Street where the Renberg’s Department Store occupied the first two floors. 17 On Monday, May 30th, 1921, Dick Rowland, a Black American believed to be nineteen (19), entered the Drexel building elevator to access the “Colored Only” restroom where he tripped, and while falling, latched on to the arm of the White elevator operator, Sarah Page, then seventeen (17) years old. 18 Startled, Sarah screamed and a White clerk in a first floor store called the police and reported seeing Dick Rowland flee from the elevator and out of the building. 19 The White clerk on the first floor described the incident as an attempted assault. 20 Subsequently, Dick Rowland was arrested on Tuesday, May 31st, 1921. 21 According to the Tulsa World, “[Dick] Rowland‘s arrest the next morning was reported in a front-page story in that afternoon’s Tulsa Tribune. Headlined ‘Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator,’ the somewhat sensational account reported, accurately if perhaps imprudently, that [Dick] Rowland was to be charged with attempted assault. 22 It said [Dick] Rowland scratched [Sarah] Page and tore her clothes.” 23 While in custody, White citizens concerned for the safety of White women attempted to lynch Dick Rowland, 24 and Black citizens concerned for Dick Rowland’s life attempted to protect him 25 and the Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Riot of 1921 was on.
Part Two: The Aftermath
The Klu Klux Klan Benefited From The Riot
The “Assault” Case Against Dick Rowland Was Dropped
In the early 1900s the economic prosperity of Black Americans was often realized amidst violent racial and political tension. 26 In Oklahoma the Klu Klux Klan made its first major appearance shortly before the riot in Tulsa. 27 It has been estimated that there were about 3,200 members of the Klu Klux Klan in Tulsa in 1921. 28 As to be expected, researchers suspect that the incendiary impetus behind the riot in Tulsa was the Klu Klux Klan working in consort with ranking city officials and other sympathizers. However, it is interesting to note, that in the same month the case against Dick Rowland was dropped following the receipt of a letter from Sarah Page to Tulsa county attorney, John Seaver where she stated that she did not wish to prosecute the case, 29 a large Klu Klux Klan rally was held at Convention Hall. 30 Just three (3) months after the Riot, Wednesday, August 31st, 1921 in a private ceremony 300 Tulsans, supported by a throng of 1,500 onlookers, were initiated as the first class of the Tulsa Klan No. 2. 31 By September 1921 twenty (20) hooded vigilantes “bullwhipped” a suspected bootlegger, car thief and hijacker J. E. Frazier. Tulsa county attorney, John Seaver praised the Klu Klux Klan, intimated that Frazier probably got what he deserved and twelve (12) more “bullwhippings” followed. With the attack on Frazier, Tulsa’s Klu Klux Klan era was in full throttle. 32 In January of 1922, the Tulsa Benevolent Association of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a holding company for the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc. was formed. 33 Washington E. Hudson, the attorney for Dick Rowland, was noted among the founding members of the Tulsa Benevolent Association, where in a field north of Owasso, Oklahoma, a nighttime “naturalization” ceremony initiated 1,020 Tulsa Klavern members before a fiery, 70-by-20 foot cross. 34 Founding members provided the financing and leadership necessary to build the Klu Klux Klan’s temple, or Klavern, known as Beno Hall. It is reported that the locals jokingly called it “Be No Hall,” as in “Be No Nigger, Be No Jew, Be No Catholic, Be No Immigrant.” 35 By March 1922 Klu Klux Klan abducted and “bullwhipped” John K. Smitherman, a prominent Black American. The Klu Klux Klan cut off a piece of his ear and tried to force Smitherman to eat it. 36 By April 1922 , more than 1,700 Klu Klux Klan members marched through downtown Tulsa while an airplane carrying an electrically lighted cross flew overhead. 37 In that spring’s city elections, Klu Klux Klan candidates swept every office, and did the same when county elections came around in the fall. 38 Between November 1921 and July 1923, according to formal indictments, thirty (31) Tulsans, everyone an admitted Klansman were involved in twelve (12) “bullwhipping” events in the Tulsa. 39 By August 1923, just two (2) years after the riot, Oklahoma’s anti-klan, Democratic Governor, John Calloway “Jack” Walton (who would later be impeached), declared martial law in Tulsa County because of Klu Klux Klan activity. 40 Looking back, one can easily see how wise a decision it was for Dick Rowland to leave Tulsa immediately after he was freed. 41
An Open Letter To Black America
Black Wall Street Is The Model For Our Economic Success
“THE NEGRO CANNOT WIN … if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. (“The Living King”, Ebony, Vol. 41, No. 3, January 1986, Page 63.) 42
In 1921 Black Wall Street, in the Greenwood Section of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was home to over 600 successful Black American businesses. Built by the blood and sweat of former slaves who traveled along the “Trail of Tears” to resettlement camps in Oklahoma and ironically aided by Jim Crow laws that forced the Black Community to become self-sustaining and interdependent, Black Wall Street became more than a bona fide “rags to riches” story. 43 Black Wall Street, in the midst of a corrupt and moraly bankrupt country, transformed into a proven economic model and blue print for a productive, prosperous and secure future. According to David Reeves, an adjunct professor at San Francisco State University in the Afro Studies Department, a Black Wall Street “dollar circulated 36 to 1,000 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now in 1995, a dollar leaves the Black community in fifteen (15) minutes.” 44 According to John and Maggie Anderson, founders of The Empowerment Experiment (formerly called the “Ebony Experiment“), despite the nearly $1 trillion dollars of buying power in Black America, for every dollar that Black Americans spend, only $0.02 cents are invested into Black-owned businesses. The Andersons advocate buying from Black-owned businesses to rebuild our community, schools, tax base and revitalize our workforce. 45 John Malveaux, President of the Long Beach Central Area Association, agreeing with the Andersons puts it this way; “there is a need to bring back some sense of cohesiveness in the [Black] community, not only culturally but economically. 46 I agree. Malveaux is spot on. Practically speaking, with only $0.02 cents of every dollar of our buying power left in our community, $0.98 cents of every dollar we spend is being used by those who would oppress us. Essentially, we’re funding our own demise and I have to wonder if we’ve lost our mind? Are we so dependent upon the government’s dole that we can no longer discern the difference between life and death? Are we so deep in debt, so desperate and despondent in our disenfranchisement and disposition that we’ve abandoned the bloody lessons learned from the legacy of Black Wall Street and bought into the vicious vote buying schemes inherent in liberal policies? Star Parker, Founder and President of C.U.R.E., the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, in her “Memo to Romney” expands the discussion when she says; “getting off ‘Uncle Sam’s Plantation‘ is no longer a problem limited to our poor. It is a problem and challenge for the whole country.” 47 Here’s my Memo to the Congressional Black Caucus: Capitalism for the rich and Socialism for the poor has not, does not and never, ever will work. It is long, long past time we got off “Uncle Sam’s Plantation.” Booker Taliaferro Washington, championed biblically moral character, personal responsibility, education and economic empowerment. 48 He was prophetic when he said: “The greatness of a nation in the future will be measured not by the vessels that it floats, but by the number of schools and churches and useful industries that it keeps in existence. It will be measured not by the number of men killed, but by the number of men saved and lifted up.” 49 Here is my bottom line: When we (i.e., Black American consumers and entrepreneurs) invest in each other by way of the time tested and proven promises of market-based public policies that promote private property, personal responsibility, and limited government we fight poverty. When we live by biblical values, such as abstinence, education, faith, family and freedom, to protect biblically defined marriage, parental rights, the lives of our women and the life of our children inside the wombs of their mothers we please God. When we please God, we win.
Brothers, we really need to talk.
01. Tulsa Race Riot, “Re-examine the Riot,” Produced by the American Studies Program, Oklahoma State University (http://bit.ly/KFHOHK). See also Parrish, Mary E. Jones. An Eye-Witness Account of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot by Mrs. Mary E. Jones Parrish as published in 1923: John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, 2009 Edition.
02. 1921 Tulsa Race Riot: captured men. Photo by Tulsa Historical Society: “Black detainees are led to the Convention Hall following a race riot in Tulsa, Okla, June 1, 1921. The National Guard rounded up blacks by the thousands and took them to the fairgrounds, the Convention Hall and a baseball stadium where they were given food and water. By day’s end, many thriving black businesses in a 35-block area had been torched.” (http://bit.ly/MOZn2V).
03. Tulsa Reparations Coalition, Prologue and quote by State Representative Don Ross, “Tulsa Race Riot — A Report by the Oklahoma Commission to study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921” (http://bit.ly/Md5IE1).
04. Tulsa Race Riot Report, The Final Report of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, February 28, 2001 (http://bit.ly/LSs3fq).
05. Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, “The Black Wall Street,” Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/b9PcZ8).
06. Randy Krehbiel, World Staff Writer, “The Questions That Remain, A conversation about Tulsa’s Race Riot and racism today” (http://bit.ly/kmOj2L). See also “Slavery in America — History.Com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts.” Quote: “Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco.” (http://bit.ly/dERwex).
07. “The Eruption of Tulsa“: An NAACP Official Investigates the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 (http://bit.ly/I7zidR).
08. Race Riot: Timeline | Tulsa World, “Timeline” (http://bit.ly/kmOj2L).
09. Tulsa Race Riot, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/2Cp2CU).
10. Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, The Tulsa Race Riot, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/h0pbkE).
11. Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Aftermath, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/MEOcZS).
12. The 25 Worst Riots of All Time, #9 Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 (http://bit.ly/8Wa3pa).
13. Race Riot: Timeline | Tulsa World, “The Toll” (http://bit.ly/kmOj2L).
14. Tulsa Race Riot, “Meet the Survivors,” Robert Fairchild, Sr. (http://bit.ly/LhqEQa).
15. The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, Jim Crow Stories, “Tulsa Riot (1921)” (http://to.pbs.org/Lrb9SE).
16. African–American Resource Center, Tulsa Race Riot Timeline with Maps, “The Seeds of Catastrophe”, May 31st, 1921 (http://bit.ly/NtmOos).
17. Dick Rowland, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/Mdyogj).
22. The Tulsa Tribune, “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl In an Elevator,” Tuesday, May 31st, 1921 (http://bit.ly/c49bGW).
24. Dick Rowland, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/Mdyogj).
25. Scott Ellsworth, “The Tulsa Race Riot — History Does Not Take Place In A Vacuum” (http://bit.ly/Ne6fN).
26. Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, “The Black Wall Street,” Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/b9PcZ8).
29. Dick Rowland, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/Mdyogj).
30. Race Riot: Timeline | Tulsa World, “The Aftermath” (http://bit.ly/kmOj2L).
31. Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, by Charles Robert Goins, Danney Goble, James H. Anderson, “Reported Incidents Involving The Ku Klux Klan, By County” (http://bit.ly/LSXKFw). See also Scott Ellsworth, “The Tulsa Race Riot — History Does Not Take Place In A Vacuum” (http://bit.ly/Ne6fN).
32. Beno Hall: Tulsa’s Den Of Terror, by Steve Gerkin, September 3rd, 2011 (http://bit.ly/MdPVov).
36. Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, by Charles Robert Goins, Danney Goble, James H. Anderson, “Reported Incidents Involving The Ku Klux Klan, By County” (http://bit.ly/LSXKFw).
37. Race Riot: Timeline | Tulsa World, “The Aftermath” (http://bit.ly/kmOj2L).
38. Ibid. See also The House of Kerr of Ardgowan, The Grandfather Kerr Clan. Quote: “The enormous economic power and political leverage of Tulsa’s oil establishment has always managed to suppress much public knowledge of the 1921 Tulsa Race War … or the complete Ku Klux Klan political takeover of Oklahoma after the November 1923 impeachment of Oklahoma’s courageous anti-Klan Governor Jack Walton orchestrated by Richard Lloyd Jones.” (http://bit.ly/MdTEm6). See also Tulsa Race Riot Survivors Sue Tulsa Tribune, by Attorney Jim Lloyd of Tulsa represents the survivors, Dated: Friday, May 30th, 2003, Here’s the case: “On the eve of the 83rd anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, survivors of the Riot are filing a civil lawsuit in the Western US District Court, Kansas City Missouri, naming the Tulsa Tribune newspaper, the Estate of Editor and Publisher Richard Lloyd Jones Sr., the Estates and Family Trusts of Jones Family members and members of the Ku Klux Klan organization in Tulsa for their deliberate actions that started one of the worst race riots in American history.” (http://bit.ly/NEmDW9).
39. Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, by Charles Robert Goins, Danney Goble, James H. Anderson, “Reported Incidents Involving The Ku Klux Klan, By County” (http://bit.ly/LSXKFw).
40. Race Riot: Timeline | Tulsa World, “The Aftermath” (http://bit.ly/kmOj2L). See also Governor of Oklahoma (http://bit.ly/MEUNn6) and Impeachment (http://bit.ly/NtU3rE). See also Hiram Wesley Evans, the Imperial Wizard who “devoted funds to fighting Jack C. Walton, the anti-Klan governor of Oklahoma; to the group’s joy, Walton was impeached and removed from office in 1923.” (http://bit.ly/K8RILU).
41. Dick Rowland, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/Mdyogj).
42. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Living King”, Ebony, Vol. 41, No. 3, January 1986, Page 63 (http://bit.ly/LzCLHI). See also Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescing; he merely increases the oppressor’s arrogance and contempt. Acquiescence is interpreted as proof of the Negro’s inferiority. The Negro cannot win respect of the white people of the South or the peoples of the world if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.” (http://bit.ly/LccWus).
43. Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, The Roots, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/MgPqdj). See also “Burning of Greenwood, Oklahoma – The Black Wall Street” by Samuel Black: “Based on the growth of African-Americans in Greenwood, Jim Crow laws legalizing segregation were passed in 1908.” (http://bit.ly/bVsusN).
44. David Reeves, “What Is Black Wallstreet?” (http://bit.ly/1Q5eOf).
45. Black Dollars, Support Black Businesses, by Dianne Anderson, Precinct Reporter Group, (http://bit.ly/LbcJKa).
47. Star Parker, author of “Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do About It” (http://amzn.to/MPW4sh). Star Parker is the founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (http://bit.ly/8EtAxr), a 501(c)(3) non-profit think tank which promotes market based public policy to fight poverty. Hear ye her in: “Memo to Romney: Whole nation is on government plantation” (http://bit.ly/xaEPsR).
48. Booker T. Washington, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1qr4J).
49. Vote God, is committed to motivating and mobilizing people of Faith to amply … Vote! Recent statistics show, 75% of “people of Faith” don’t vote! This will change, and MUST change this year (2012)! The earth groans and God stands, waiting for “people of Faith” to take a STAND for Him! Visit us on Facebook here: http://on.fb.me/KBRliU or stop by our website here: http://bit.ly/KIgp34.