On June 1, 1921, the black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was destroyed by a race riot.
Prior to June 1st, the community enjoyed significant economic prosperity and political independence. Located in the city’s Greenwood District and known as “Black Wall Street,” it was considered one of the wealthiest black communities in the nation.
On May 30th, a 17-year-old white girl was startled when a 19-year-old black man boarded the elevator for which she was the operator. She screamed, but explained to police that she was simply startled and did not want to press charges. The rumors resulting from that scream morphed into a rape allegation, which set off a race riot that would destroy the community. Almost 300 black residents were killed and 40 city blocks burned to the ground
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[…] “The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 began after 19-year-old Dick Rowland was accused of assaulting 17-year-old Sarah Page in an elevator she operated. A local newspaper printed stories both about the fabricated rape and that a hanging had been allegedly planned for Rowland that night. Groups of White and Black people converged at the courthouse that night. According to witnesses, a gun was fired, which sparked the deadly riot. […]