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Explained: What was the 1921 Tulsa massacre and what it destroyed

Among other Black-owned properties which were levelled in the violence include grocery stores, soda fountains, cafes, barbershops, a movie theater, music venues, cigar and billiard parlors, tailors and dry cleaners.

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

PUBLISHED ON MAY 31, 2021 07:25 PM IST

On May 31, 1921, a race riot erupted in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as white mobs began looting and levelling the affluent Black district of Greenwood over reports a Black man had assaulted a white woman in an elevator. Hundreds are believed to have died in the riots.

A hundred years later, Tulsans commemorated the 100th anniversary of a two-day assault Greenwood on Monday. They called attention to an era of deadly mob assaults on Black communities that official history long suppressed.

The thriving Greenwood community – dubbed Black Wall Street because of the number of Black-owned businesses – was decimated in the two-day attack by a white mob.

Among other Black-owned properties which were levelled in the violence include grocery stores, soda fountains, cafes, barbershops, a movie theater, music venues, cigar and billiard parlors, tailors and dry cleaners.

Here is a look at what all was destroyed in the 1921 incident:

  • The Woods building: It was two-storey building housed many offices, including an estate company, tailoring shop, and a few clinics.
  • Williams building: At west side of 100 block, the building was destroyed as the rampaging mob marched through the area. Greenwood was one of the largest and wealthiest Black communities in the United States.
  • Twenty-three churches were also levelled by the group of attackers who roamed the street.
  • A junior school and the only hospital in the district at that time was also among the losses suffered in the 18 hours of mayhem in 1921, according to various news reports.
  • More than 35 city blocks were leveled, an estimated 191 businesses were destroyed, and roughly 10,000 Black residents were displaced from the neighborhood where they’d lived, learned, played, worked and prospered.

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