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Tulsa race Massacre; Multicultural facade hid decades of simmering racial inequality

Demonstrations and protests about social justice and the death of George Floyd while in police custody are still going on around the US. Meanwhile, people in Oklahoma quietly marked the 99th anniversary of one of the most egregious acts of racial violence in the nation’s history — the Tulsa race riots of 1921.

Not a lot of folks know about it. But it happened in Greenwood section of Tulsa, and when it did, hundreds died and an entire community was looted and destroyed. The bloody massacre that took place there isn’t taught much in U.S. history classes, and we are curious.

Before the area was burned down in 1921, Greenwood was a racially segregated but thriving neighborhood dubbed the “Negro Wall Street” by Booker T. Washington, a former slave who became a leading educator of his time, according to the Greenwood Cultural Center. Considered the nation’s wealthiest black neighborhood, the 35-block area boasted 15 black doctors, a movie theater, churches, a large hotel, and its newspapers.

Bullets were flying and fires started. Tulsa officials summoned the National Guard to quell what they called a Negro uprising. by the time it was over on June 2, Greenwood had been destroyed and 10,000 African Americans were homeless. No one was ever held responsible for what happened. People were left to rebuild as best they could. It was one of the deadliest and most devastating racial massacres in American history as well as one of the least known. A lot of people had not heard of it until the HBO series Watchmen depicted it.

I find it ironic that Greenwood commemorated the 99th anniversary at the same time that Philly and other cities were dealing with violent confrontations that followed peaceful demonstrations protesting Floyd’s violent death.

Nearly 100 years have passed and America still can’t get past its original sin of racism. Decades have gone by, yet still fighting continues. African Americans still want to be treated fairly in a system that has a long history of not doing right by us.

Floyd’s death was only the latest in a string of high-profile cases of brutality against African Americans.

Other victims include Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who had been jogging in Georgia when he was fatally wounded in February after being stopped by two white men, and Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician killed in Louisville, Ky., in March after police burst into her apartment while she slept.

Meanwhile, the National Guard has been activated here and is attempting to restore order as local business owners take stock of what’s left. And the protests and demonstrations continue. 

 Hopefully, the systemic issues and racism that gave birth The Tulsa race riots and now this current unrest will finally be addressed, so that America doesn’t have to go through this again.

By Sanjida Jannat

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