Probe reveals govt, media’s complicity in 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Probe reveals govt, media’s complicity in 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

A recent investigation by the Washington Post has revealed that the truth and devastation of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre were intentionally covered up under the complicity of the local governments and media outlets.

Back in 1921, Greenwood, a district in Tulsa City of the Oklahoma State, had been one of the richest African-American communities in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

It was soon burned to ashes in the massacre from May 31-June 1 that year, which later came to be known as “the single worst incidents of racial violence in American history”.


The massacre was triggered after Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old African-American, was accused of assaulting a White elevator operator Sarah Page in downtown Tulsa.

The charge against Rowland finally evolved into a clash between local White mobs and Black veterans, said a report published by the Washington Post in late May.

“What followed was a rampage that historians think left as many as 300 dead and 10,000 homeless,” the report said.

However, no one was held accountable for the casualties and property destruction, with insurance claims filed by homeowners and businesses rejected, which partly reflected that the racism rooted in the US institution is the main cause of the tragedy.

“The city police department and the county sheriff’s office deputized and armed white Tulsans to murder, loot, and burn the nearly 40 city blocks of the Greenwood District,” the Washington Post quoted a reparation lawsuit submitted by three survivors last year against Tulsa City, Tulsa County, Oklahoma state and the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce.

“The State National Guard participated with this angry white mob in killing and looting and destroying the property of Black residents of Greenwood. The city, sheriff, chamber, and county targeted Black community leaders and victims of the massacre for prosecution as instigators of the massacre — despite knowing who was truly responsible,” the lawsuit said.

The victims’ efforts have already failed.

In 2015, the Supreme Court dismissed without comment an earlier lawsuit against Tulsa, its police department, and the state, while lower courts had ruled that a two-year statute of limitations on claims had expired in 1923.

Meanwhile, media coverage was also reticent about what had happened in Tulsa.

“For decades after the massacre, there was silence about what happened. Few in Tulsa learned about it at school, or at church, or at family dinner tables,” the Washington Post said.

“Slowly, those who’d witnessed the violence died, taking their memories with them,” the report added.