The Tulsa tragedy that shamed America

The Documentary Podcast

By BBC World Service

The Tulsa tragedy that shamed America

Saturday, 29 May

Alvin Hall tells the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst episodes of racial violence in US history. In the early 20th Century, Tulsa was a wild west town which became a boom city. But the oil capital of the world was also home to the thriving and prosperous district of Greenwood - nicknamed 'Black Wall Street' by Booker T Washington - because it was a mecca for Black entrepreneurs. On 30 May, a young Black shoe shiner Dick Rowland, was wrongly accused of attacking a white elevator operator Sarah Paige (the girl later recanted her story). This was the trigger, on 31 May and 1 June, for an armed white mob to loot and burn Greenwood, in a violent 16-hour attack. Many estimate up to 300 Black citizens were killed. Over 1200 homes were destroyed, every church, hotel, shop, and business was completely wiped off the map.
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