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Douglas MacArthur 1880–1964

1921: One hundredth anniversary

The Tulsa Massacre

David McGill reflects on the impact and significance of the Tulsa Massacre of 1921

Source C
The aftermath of the Tulsa Massacre

Tulsa (or Greenwood) Massacre remains the single worst incident of racial violence in America since the Civil War ended. In 1921 Tulsa had around 100,000 citizens — 10,000 of whom were black American and who mostly lived in the Greenwood district of the city. Tulsa was also a city affected by growing racial tensions. Jim Crow laws denied black Americans their civil and political rights and lynching was still common.

On 31 May 1921 Dick Rowland, a black American, was arrested after being charged with assaulting a white woman, Sarah Page (a crime he was certainly innocent of.) A mob descended on the jailhouse, demanding Rowland be handed over to them. The sheriff refused, and groups of black ex-servicemen turned up at the jail and offered to help protect Rowland. When a white man tried to disarm one of the veterans, fighting started. After a night of violence thousands of whites invaded the Greenwood District on 1 June and burned it down. Dozens were killed: the majority of these were black people defending their property, but some of their white assailants also died.

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Douglas MacArthur 1880–1964

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