Never Forget: Vintage Photos From 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Underscore The Lingering Devastation

Part of Greenwood District burned in Race Riots, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, June 1921

Source: Universal History Archive / Getty

UPDATED: 11 a.m. ET, May 31, 2023

An increasing number of Americans have been forced to come to grips with one of the country’s most racist black eyes — pun intended — as we approach the annual commemorations of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 when white supremacists destroyed a thriving Black business district and killed hundreds of people in Oklahoma.

It was widely regarded as the worst single instance of violence by white people against Black people in the history of the United States of America.

MORE: The Tulsa Race Massacre And Making The Case For Reparations

It was 103 years ago on Friday and Saturday when mobs of angry, racist white people descended on the Greenwood section of Tulsa and strategically targeted Black people along with businesses and residences they built and worked and lived in that were part of Black Wall Street, as the area had come to be known for its historic financial success and overall prestige. Historians believe that Greenwood was likely the wealthiest Black community in the country at a time when that type of financial success was disproportionately restricted to white people.

The violence included deadly shootings and arson to 35 blocks of buildings, leaving bodies strewn in the streets and structures smoldering after being burned down to the ground.

Photos taken during the Tulsa Race Massacre’s 18 hours of violence as well as others captured in the hours, days, weeks, months and years since it took place underscore the devastation inflicted on Black Wall Street and its survivors, many of whom lost family members.

The end result has been 10 decades of the residual effects of the domestic terrorism that robbed generations of Black Tulsans of the type of accumulated wealth enjoyed by so many white Americans, including those who now own businesses and homes where Black Wall Street once stood.

MORE: 100 Years After The Tulsa Race Massacre: Continuing The Fight For Equity, Equality, And Inclusion

Many parallels between then and now remain in place in the United States, including ongoing efforts by white supremacists to disenfranchise Black people in a number of ways, including and especially when it comes to laws surrounding elections that could bring about the type of change for which people have been fighting so long.

In an indication that the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was far from an anomaly, a mob of white supremacists stormed the U.S. Capitol in 2021 angered by the false premise that Donald Trump was the victim of election fraud waged by voters in cities with a sizeable Black voting contingency. That deadly violence came as the result of a lie.

Similarly, the Tulsa Race Massacre also reportedly came about following a white woman claiming she was raped by a Black man — an accusation that sparked the white supremacist-led death and destruction beginning May 31 and ending June 2, 1921.

The Brookings Institute estimated that the monetary damage done — and effectively lost — during the Tulsa Race Massacre is worth about $27 million in the present day. But a 2018 study found that the destruction caused losses that are closer to $200 million.

Now, 103 years later, the fight for descendants of Tulsa Race Massacre victims to receive reparations and other forms of restorative justice remains stronger than ever, however elusive it has been over the past 20 years since that proposal was first introduced.

Scroll down to see more devastating images from the immediate aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.

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The post Never Forget: Vintage Photos From 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Underscore The Lingering Devastation appeared first on NewsOne.

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