The Last Survivor of the Black Wall Street Oklahoma Disaster

Olivia HookerOlivia Hooker. The Last Survivor of the Burning of Black Wall Street

Black Wall Street, the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-Black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious Whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving Black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering – a model community destroyed and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused.

The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. As could have been expected, the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials and many other sympathizers.

The best description of Black Wall Street, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be to compare it to a mini Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African Americans could create a successful infrastructure. That’s what Black Wall Street was all about.

A local newspaper had printed a fabricated story that Rowland tried to rape Page. In an editorial, the same newspaper said a hanging was planned for that night. As groups of both Blacks and Whites converged on the Tulsa Courthouse, a White man in the crowd confronted an armed Black man, a war veteran, who had joined with other Blacks to protect Rowland.

Eddie Faye Gates, a member of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, formed several years ago to determine exactly what happened, told CNN what happened next.

“This White man,” she said, asked the Black man, “What are you doing with this gun?” “I’m going to use it if I have to,” the Black man said, according to Gates, “and (the White man) said, ‘No, you’re not. Give it to me,’ and he tried to take it. The gun went off, the White man was dead, the riot was on.”

Truckloads of Whites set fires and shot Blacks on sight. When the smoke lifted the next day, more than 1,400 homes and businesses in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, a prosperous area known as the “Black Wall Street,” lay in ruins. Today, only a single block of the original buildings remains standing in the area. Experts now estimate that at least 3,000 died.

Dr. Olivia Hooker was one of the survivors of this racially motivated attack, which she refuses to call a riot.

Dr. Hooker spoke with the Wall Street Journal and recalled the day:

“I remember that day because it was a bright, shining day and we were supposed to get our report cards at school that day. But of course we didn’t get to school that day and our school was bombed and it was just rubble, just rocks. There was no school left there.

My mother had to instruct me that what I was listening to was not hail, it was bullets. “

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
This entry was posted in Black History, crime, discrimination, Domestic Terrorism, History, Institutional Racism, Jim Crow laws, Lynching, News, Open Thread, Racism, White Supremacy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Last Survivor of the Black Wall Street Oklahoma Disaster

  1. Liza says:

    This is one of the lesser known crimes against humanity committed by white supremacists.

    I’ve said many times that the Confederacy should have been occupied for a hundred years. The reason I believe that is because the occupation needed to last for multiple generations and white terrorists groups like the KKK could have been dealt with by the Feds, or should have been.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    “A Long-Lost Manuscript Contains a Searing Eyewitness Account of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921”
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/long-lost-manuscript-contains-searing-eyewitness-account-tulsa-race-massacre-1921-180959251/?no-ist
    Excerpt:

    The ten-page manuscript is typewritten, on yellowed legal paper, and folded in thirds. But the words, an eyewitness account of the May 31, 1921, racial massacre that destroyed what was known as Tulsa, Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street,” are searing.

    “I could see planes circling in mid-air. They grew in number and hummed, darted and dipped low. I could hear something like hail falling upon the top of my office building. Down East Archer, I saw the old Mid-Way hotel on fire, burning from its top, and then another and another and another building began to burn from their top,” wrote Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960).

    The Oklahoma lawyer, father of famed African-American historian John Hope Franklin (1915-2009), was describing the attack by hundreds of whites on the thriving black neighborhood known as Greenwood in the booming oil town. “Lurid flames roared and belched and licked their forked tongues into the air. Smoke ascended the sky in thick, black volumes and amid it all, the planes—now a dozen or more in number—still hummed and darted here and there with the agility of natural birds of the air.”

    Franklin writes that he left his law office, locked the door, and descended to the foot of the steps.

    “The side-walks were literally covered with burning turpentine balls. I knew all too well where they came from, and I knew all too well why every burning building first caught from the top,” he continues. “I paused and waited for an opportune time to escape. ‘Where oh where is our splendid fire department with its half dozen stations?’ I asked myself. ‘Is the city in conspiracy with the mob?’”

    Franklin’s harrowing manuscript now resides among the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The previously unknown document was found last year, purchased from a private seller by a group of Tulsans and donated to the museum with the support of the Franklin family.


    (Article’s caption: “Practicing law in a Red Cross tent are B.C. Franklin (right) and his partner I.H. Spears with their secretary Effie Thompson on June 6, 1921, five days after the massacre. (NMAAHC, Gift from Tulsa Friends and John W. and Karen R. Franklin)”

    Like

  3. Ametia says:

    Brutally DEVASTATING. And we have NEGROES like Snoop Dogg who want to bury the UGLINESS of slavery

    I.just.

    CANNOT

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Burning of black wall street 7

    So determined were whites in Tulsa to wipe out all evidence of Blacks’ prosperity and achievement despite impossible odds, they used airplanes to firebomb Black Wall Street from the air.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. June 1st, 1921

    The Burning of Black Wall Street…

    Like

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