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US Black Heritage Tulsa Race Massacre

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US Black Heritage Project


"The Tulsa Race Massacre took place May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents, many of them deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Alternatively known as the Black Wall Street Massacre, the Greenwood Massacre, the Tulsa Massacre, the Tulsa pogrom, or the Tulsa race riot, it marks one of "the single worst incidents of racial violence in American history". The attack, carried out on the ground and from private aircraft, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district – at that time the wealthiest Black community in the United States, known as "Black Wall Street"."[1]



  • Dick Rowland Is the man who was arrested for assault which is said to have resulted in the massacre. He was later released after the charges were dropped.
  • O.W. Gurley Founder of the Greenwood District
    • O.W. Gurley, owner of Gurley's Hotel, identified the following men by name as arming themselves and gathering in his hotel: Will Robinson, Peg Leg Taylor, Bud Bassett, Henry Van Dyke, Chester Ross, Jake Mayes, O. B. Mann, John Suplesox, Fatty, Jack Scott, Lee Mable, John Bowman and W. S. Weaver.
  • Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960) an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma who defended the survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.


Contents

Known Dead

Another 47 unidentified dead

Known Wounded

  • J L Abernathy
  • Cal Amley
  • Johnny Baker
  • Howard Barren
  • James Barry
  • Ed Baskins
  • William Bentley
  • Andy Brown
  • Willie Brown
  • Ruth Carr
  • P A Chapple
  • George L Danney
  • Dan Davis
  • William Epps
  • Lonnie Foster
  • Miranda Glaze
  • Clarence Griffin
  • William Gumer
  • J S Hode
  • Ed Ingram
  • S Jackson
  • Ulysses Jackson
  • Charles Johnson
  • H Johnson
  • Marie Johnson
  • Arthur Jones
  • Commodore Knox
  • Oliver Lane
  • Leroy Lasley
  • G W Lewis - possibly the George Lewis buried at potter's field in Oaklawn Cemetery[11]
  • Tony Lewis
  •  ? Lindsley
  • Willis Maynor
  • Chester Meadows
  • Ruth Moore
  • Will Moore
  • Andrew Neel
  • Tom Nelson
  • Ruth Oliver
  • Latha Renkin
  • Bob Rivers
  • Lane Robinson
  • Florida Smith
  • Franklin Smith
  • Alex Stevenson
  • Lily Taliafirio
  • Sam Tyson
  • Elsie Walker
  • L Washington
  • Celia Whitty
  • Porter Williams
  • Shirley Woffard
  • Ora Woodard


Missing

  • Tom Bryant
  • Family of R.E. Love


Some known survivors of the riot

In April 2022, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. stated that he would be researching the family history of the three living survivors of the massacre: Viola Ford Fletcher (age 107), Hughes Van Ellis (age 101), and Lessie Benningfield Randle (age 107).[12]

Current Events Regarding the Massacre

From a NY Times article published July 13, 2020, regarding the forensic excavation of a mass grave of possibly 300 people[13], it describes a 2001 report of eye witness accounts:
"A 2001 report from a truth commission convened by the state notes numerous accounts showing that for years, despite official silence, local oral history from both Black and white residents pointed to the Oaklawn site. One of those cited is a Salvation Army major, O.T. Johnson, who said he oversaw diggers burying 150 bodies in Oaklawn. Similarly, the wife of a Black mortician, Eunice Cloman Jackson, recounted in the report that her stepfather was part of a crew of 55 gravediggers burying bodies in Oaklawn. The report also records the story of a young boy, Clyde Eddy, who saw large wooden crates containing several burned bodies next to workers digging a trench at the cemetery.
“While Mr. Eddy did not directly see the victims being placed in this trench-like area, it is reasonable to assume that its purpose was for a mass grave,” the report states. Also suggesting the Oaklawn site are the few records of known victims, which listed 39 dead — 13 white and 26 Black. Of the Black victims, 21 were interred in Oaklawn, according to the report."
  • Four-page, typewritten letter addressed to Joseph Anthony Sharp and Marguerite Jane McFadden Sharp from their son, Thomas James Sharp, dated June 28, 1921, in which he describes the event now known as the Tulsa Race Massacre. The letter contains Sharp's comments upon the recent "race riot" in Tulsa, OK. Sharp states that upon a trip to Tulsa, he surveyed the burned area of North Tulsa. He stated, "There wasn't as much as a stick of wood standing in a piece of land a mile square..." Sharp gives his parents an account of the riot events and states that a grand jury found that blame rested upon "black agitators." [14]

The City of Tulsa created a "1921 Graves Investigation Project" to investigate these burials and attempt to identify the remains. In 2021, the project exhumed a number of bodies thought to be victims of the massacre from the Oaklawn Cemetery. As of Sep 2022, the project is working with Intermountain Forensics and are seeking family history information and DNA samples from the public in order to identify the victims of the massacre.[15][16]

Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_massacre
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/177988603/sam-ree
  3. https://tulsaraceriot.wordpress.com/research-topics/known-dead-and-wounded-in-the-tulsa-race-riot/ Gregg?
  4. Tulsa Tribune, 2 June 1921
  5. 5.0 5.1 Stanley Funeral Home Record
  6. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/216866759/greg-alexander: accessed 20 November 2022), memorial page for Greg Alexander (1886–1 Jun 1921), Find A Grave: Memorial #216866759 ; Maintained by Zina Bee (contributor 47958360) Burial Details Unknown.
  7. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/177988603/sam-ree : accessed 30 May 2021), memorial page for Sam Ree (unknown–1 Jun 1921), Find A Grave: Memorial #177988603, citing Oaklawn Cemetery, Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Ian D. Swart (contributor 47109713) .
  8. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/177988751/william-turner : accessed 30 May 2021), memorial page for William Turner (unknown–2 Jun 1921), Find A Grave: Memorial #177988751, citing Oaklawn Cemetery, Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Ian D. Swart (contributor 47109713) .
  9. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/177988795/curly-nevesters-walker : accessed 30 May 2021), memorial page for Curly Nevesters Walker (23 Sep 1889–1 Jun 1921), Find A Grave: Memorial #177988795, citing Oaklawn Cemetery, Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Ian D. Swart (contributor 47109713) .
  10. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/177989252/henry-walker : accessed 30 May 2021), memorial page for Henry Walker (20 Sep 1888–1 Jun 1921), Find A Grave: Memorial #177989252, citing Oaklawn Cemetery, Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Ian D. Swart (contributor 47109713) .
  11. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/177988603/sam-ree
  12. "Renown Historian, Scholar Pledges to Trace the Roots of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors ," The Oklahoma Eagle, 15 April 2022, online.
  13. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/13/us/tulsa-massacre-graves-excavation.html
  14. Thomas James Sharp to Joseph Anthony Sharp, June 28, 1921 [2021.170.001], Tulsa Historical Society & Museum, Tulsa, OK.
    WARNING: EXPLICIT RACIST CONTENT
    https://www.tulsahistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2021.170.001.pdf
  15. "1921 Tulsa Identification Project," Intermountain Forensics, https://www.intermountainforensics.com/tulsadnaproject : accessed 15 Sep 2022).
  16. "1921 Graves Investigation," City of Tulsa, https://www.cityoftulsa.org/government/mayor-of-tulsa/1921-graves-investigation/ : accessed 15 Sep 2022.

See also:

  • Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Tulsa Race Riot, (2001), digital image, Oklahoma Historical Society (Adobe Format)




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A recent update using DNA to identify victims:

FORENSIC SCIENTISTS, GENEALOGISTS MAKE PROGRESS IN 1921 GRAVES INVESTIGATION

Wednesday, May 31st 2023, 9:31 pm

By: News On 6

https://www.newson6.com/story/6477b8362214290b79509aff/forensic-scientists-genealogists-make-progress-in-1921-graves-investigation

posted by Ronald Prentice
See also Buck Colbert Franklin, a Black attorney and witness, who took on and won a lawsuit for himself and fellow Black residents who had been prevented by a discriminatory Tulsa city ordinance passed after the 1921 Tulsa Massacre to prevent their rebuilding their damaged and destroyed homes and businesses in Tulsa.
posted by Stephanie Ward
edited by Stephanie Ward