May 31

May 31, 1921 – The Tulsa Race Riot

Tulsa race riot inflames-1921

The “Little Africa” section of Tulsa, OK in flames during the 1921 race riot.

From May 31 to June 1, 1921 the wealthiest African American neighborhood in the United States was burned down as a result of a massive racial riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It allegedly all began because of an armed white lynch mob of hundreds were trying to get an African American out of jail being protected by the Sheriff and his deputies. Some armed African Americans came to help the sheriff protect the young man in jail. This eventually lead to an alleged armed confrontation between African Americans and Tulsa whites. Eventually, hundreds of whites went through the Greenwood Community often referred to as “The Negro Wallstreet” killing, looting and burning down homes and businesses. Several airplanes dropped firebombs on the African American Community while others shot out of the planes into Greenwood. It is now estimated that approximately 300 persons were killed with the overwhelmingly majority being African Americans. The armed confrontation resulted in over 800 persons being admitted to local white hospitals, (it is not known how many African American injuries there were, because the two African American hospitals were burned down) approximately 10,000 African Americans were left without homes. At least 1,256 homes were destroyed over a 35 block area. Over 6,000 African Americans were arrested and detained at the Convention Hall and Fairgrounds. Some were held up to eight days.