Eyewitness to the Desolation of ‘Black Wall Street’

A woman who survived the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 reminds us that history doesn’t stay stuck in time.


Comments: 172

  1. So many people are still trying to pretend things like this never happened. We have to keep telling this story and relate it to what is still happening in the present.

  2. Thank you Charles. I hope someone, maybe one of our wealthy brothers in OK can take the lead on a memorial or something. Anything.

  3. Not too much has changed, really. just different tactics. Same meat, new gravy...

  4. Thank you for making history, however unpleasant, come alive with your recounting of the riot and the effect on a real, living person.

  5. Thank you for this inspiring piece.

    I confess to being ignorant about this horrible event (so much of the 20th century got rushed through in history class for my generation). I'm grateful to you for keeping its meaning alive.

    One can only imagine how many other horrible events remain unknown to most, and how many perpetrators and enablers of those savage attacks continue to walk among us (formerly unseen until recently).

  6. The carrying, nurturing and remembering of tragedy and grievances is a activity that deserves several PhD thesis studies.

    What Ms. Hooker endured is obviously terrible and heartbreaking.

    But it occurred 100 years ago. Less than 15% of the population had indoor plumbing. RCA built its first large radio tower in NY weeks after this riot.

    To compare the US of 1921 to the US of today is nearly impossible. This does not mean that Ms. Hooker's ordeal is any less tragic but it does mean that this event is NOT an indictment of America in 2018!

    When we nurse our tragedies, mourning lives unknown, we are ultimately reflecting our fear that tragedy will befall us and no one will remember our trials.

    Better to build up our communities in the ties that bind (as Americans) than focus on the frayed and shorn edges of our grandparents divisions.

  7. @Arturo ... It's really a shame when people cannot see the connections over the arc of history. Sad.

  8. @Arturo
    As George Santayana put it, "those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it." So whilst we might, in some small measure, be glad that the US of 2018 is not the US of 1921, we should not ignore the fact that this tragedy is one more blight on the mythic American "ideal" we like to believe in and champion.

    Given the current divisive atmosphere that promulgates our social and political environment, would we really have to dig too deeply to let loose these demons that raged in Tulsa again? I would hope not, but they keep testing the chains, trying to find a weak link...

  9. @Arturo

    While it is true that this event occurred 100 years ago, it is useful and instructive even in 2018. Even today politicians opine that the economic disparities as a function of race are due to innate differences. The truth is that when African-American communities built successful business communities they were destroyed; an act of terrorism on the same scale as the Kristallnacht in 1938. Mr. Blow's article provides context to understanding the dynamics of current racial politics.

  10. Olivia Hooker is a person who lived and survived history and we are indebted to Mr Blow for bringing her story into our lives.

    The Tulsa Race Riot, like all too many instances of white brutality against innocent blacks in our history, is under-reported in the history lessons of our schools. This unwillingness to confront the reality and human consequence of our racist history persists in too many venues to this day.

    Let's be clear. Tulsa's riot was an act of racial terrorism. The fact that the Tulsa riots occurred, were evil, and that the perpetrators were never punished is a stain upon all Americans.

    Racism does not define white history. But denying the reality of racism does define some whites.

  11. @TDurk: "Under-reported"! You are too kind! (Readers: This is not a criticism.)

    I suppose if only 300 were killed, it's not as important as the 9/11 attack, right? (Sarcasm, aimed at official commemorations.)

  12. @TDurk

    Go to Montgomery Alabama to see recently opened museum and a monument to the nearly 5000 black victims of white American terrorist lynching from the end of Reconstruction to 1950. museumandmemorial.eji.org

  13. What a powerful encounter, reminding me how tethered the present is to the past. Thank you for sharing it. We need to share these stories over and over.

  14. Thank you for this powerful history lesson.

  15. I am not suprised there are no comments......instances like this, and this is not the only time White invaded a Black community and tore, burned, ransacked, looted, decimated it to the ground. They didn't want Blacks to have anything. Human beings they were not. I guess the act itself is too much even for this paper's avid readers to comment on. After all....what kind of a comment could you give that would explain away such barbarism? They had a torch in one hand and the bible in the other.

  16. @nyc2char, I think you underestimated the readers but you're right otherwise. This was not the only similar event. There were the destruction of a black town in Florida and the armed coup d'etat by whites against a black city government in North(?) Carolina, and those are only what I remember about without ever having studied the matter.

  17. @nyc2char
    They were acts of extreme violence designed to keep blacks "in their place." Some other Florida locations that come to mind are Rosewood (as another commenter noted), Ocoee, Newberry, and Axe Handle Saturday in Jacksonville.

  18. @nyc2char
    Before you assume you know what happened do some research because if you do you will find out this was not about a white invasion with the purpose of trying to destroy the black community.
    This was more like a war where there were fatalities on both sides.

  19. Dear Mr. Blow,
    Thank you for the beautiful story. I always thought America had progressed much further in removing and eradicating most of the bigotry and racial disparity, that is, until we got Trumped.

  20. Dr. Hooker seems delightful. Is the point of this that terrible things have happened to blacks in the past? That certainly is true, and they have happened to pretty much all of the rest of humanity too. So what?

    It was nice to meet Dr. Hooker though.

  21. The point of this story is a that entire an community of white folk in the United States was never destroyed because of racial hatred.

  22. @William Powell The point is that, as William Faulkner wrote, the past is not only not dead; it isn't even past.
    Racial hatred and violence are not just part of history; they are part of our everyday lives. Read the newspapers; the evidence is there.
    If we tolerate those who encourage hatred and violence, we are all complicit.

  23. @William Powell, yes, I've had troubles, too. But I think you missed something important.

  24. Mr. Blow, thank you for conducting this interview and writing this account. It is something that the readers (and non-readers) of the New York Times need to hear.

  25. This story shows how quick anger and hate can take off while love and compassion are put aside. I wonder what sermons the white preachers preached after that day in Tulsa?

  26. @Matt586, I wonder what sermons they preached before that day. Look at some of our most prominent white preachers right now.

  27. This is why the Chinese authorities are basically giving the U.S. the middle finger over the issue of the Uighurs being rounded up. The U.S. is loaded with its own human rights violations, the whole world knows it, and they don't care anymore about our skin deep platitudes about human rights.

    We annihilated and "assimilated" Native Americans, except for the ones we forced onto reservations. We continue to oppress blacks. We steal and indefinitely incarcerate children, even infants and toddlers, of immigrants. We help fuel the history's largest cholera outbreak in Yemen with our bombs and cash. We destabilize other countries, then refuse the refugees running from the terror we funded and enabled.

    The current president continuously pours gasoline on the flames of hate and racism, right out in the open, for everyone to see. Then Bolton claims the U.S. shall not be required to have accountability anywhere on Earth.

    Mr. Blow, I had actually never heard of this Tulsa event until reading this article. The towering cruelty that citizens of "the land of the free" can inflict saddens me yet again today.

  28. @P H - "This is why the Chinese authorities are basically giving the U.S. the middle finger over the issue of the Uighurs being rounded up. "

    No, it isn't why. The Chinese authorities give the middle finger to everybody. So do the US authorities.

  29. I very much like the picture of Charles Blow and Dr. Hooker. Their smiles are winning, and show that hate will not win in the long run.

  30. @Philip D
    I hope you are right but how long is the "long run". I am reminded of J M Keynes remark re. pie in the sky economic forcasts "In the long run we are all dead".

  31. I was just in Tennessee visiting my sister who still believes, based upon her experience, that race relations are just fine. However, in the next breath she says that Obama made the problem worse, that is racial relationships, which indicates that she holds two ideas at the same time, that race relations are just fine and that they are worse. It is true that in my sister's world, and as far as she can see, the races do get along. She blames the victims obviously of racial crimes and pins the blame on President Obama for "siding" with the black victims rather than the white perpetrators, in this case, policemen. It is the South and it is crazy making.

  32. @Harold JohnsonYour sister is not alone, nor is the South alone: look at all the Midwestern (white) states who would completely agree with her. The problem is, America elected a BLACK president, and there are many who just can't--or won't--ever get over that.

  33. I am a 72 year old white woman who is still contemplating racism. Not so much the fact of it, but the hate and resentment whites show to blacks. I sometimes wonder if there is a guilt that transcends generations, or is it just jealousy that others have something they do not? I am beginning to believe that some are just evil. Greenwood has always seemed to be an example of jealousy. The blacks had items, culture and thoughts these whites could not even understand, they just knew they were "of the elite."

    You are so right to want to talk to those elders who have lived through a history you have not. They carry so much within them that will be lost when they go. I always love your writing. Keep it up. It is important.

  34. @Tricia Alexander. Thank you - evil indeed. We may never know, what motivates the evil perpetrated against black people, sometimes directly, sometimes through the system.

    Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise" so fittingly captures the effort and determination of black Americans to transcend this hate. Her words ring true as you observe black peoples' responses to the next institutional-speak following the next police shooting; or to commentators wading into the next Serena Williams tennis match and outfit controversy.

    We've been here many times before, sadly we'll be here again, and Still, We Rise.

    Still I Rise - Maya Angelou, (edited)

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may trod me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

    Does my sassiness upset you?
    Why are you beset with gloom?
    ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
    Pumping in my living room.

    Just like moons and like suns,
    With the certainty of tides,
    Just like hopes springing high,
    Still I’ll rise.

    Does my haughtiness offend you?
    Don’t you take it awful hard
    ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
    Diggin’ in my own backyard.

    You may shoot me with your words,
    You may cut me with your eyes,
    You may kill me with your hatefulness,
    But still, like air, I’ll rise.

    Out of the huts of history’s shame
    I rise
    Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
    I rise
    I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
    Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

  35. Wonderful article by a wonderful man. Thank you Charles.

  36. An excellent book on this shameful event is Alfred Brophy's "Reconstructing the Dreamland: the Tulsa Riot of 1921." Not only did the perpetrators try to bury the history of the riot, the victims have never received restitution for their considerable losses.

  37. The seeds of bigotry are nurtured at home, generation after generation. What kind of example are this president and his hateful followers setting for today's children? America's problem with racism will persist for generations to come.

  38. @Randomonium
    Your comment brought these lyrics to mind:

    You've got to be taught to hate and fear
    You've got to be taught from year to year
    It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
    You've got to be carefully taught

    [Verse 2]
    You've got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made
    And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade
    You've got to be carefully taught

    [Verse 3]
    You've got to be taught before it's too late
    Before you are six or seven or eight
    To hate all the people your relatives hate
    You've got to be carefully taught

  39. I thank Ms. Hooker for her memories, her sacrifices and, I hope, her forgiveness. This story, and it's place in history, points to the the absurdity of the Supreme Court declaring that that is no more racism so there is no need for Voting Rights protections and soon no need for Affirmative Action. When there are still people around with vivid memories of the civil rights era and the carnage that preceded it, then you realize that these civil rights are nascent to many. I remember when we invaded Iraq and I tried to see the invasion from the Iraqi's standpoint. A group of innocents, with no connection to 911, have their country bombed, their homes invaded, their men imprisoned and tortured and their children left to witness it all with horror. I thought then what I thought when I read this piece. This kind of trauma will remain with the victims long after the perpetrators wish it to be forgotten.

  40. I guess this is one reason the concept of reparations doesn't seem crazy to me. In addition to all the insidious, pervasive discrimination; outright stealing, murder and terrorism are part of America's legacy in its treatment of its black citizens.

  41. This story was buried in history for so long, but I believe it to be one of the most important American stories for the reason mentioned here. Apologists for the status quo ask why the black community hasn't advanced more. Slavery was so long ago! Little told are the stories of how every time black people did prosper and build things, white people would come along and literally burn it all to the ground. Tulsa was once home to the richest of black neighborhoods, and now, in 2018, it's one of the most segregated cities in the country. Still, as the community stagnates, after centuries of terrorism against it, people wonder why they don't prosper. One of the horrors of racism in this country is that it can go on in perpetuity, reinforcing itself, each failure of the black community to advance taken as evidence for why it must be kept down.

  42. We are still paying a very high price for America’s Original Sin—Slavery.

    It is clear to me that we cannot move forward as a unified people until we deal with this issue of racism in the past and in the present.

    We Americans have done much, but we will never be great until people are “not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    We all need to pull together or we will surely break apart.

  43. @Doctor No agree! But the first step is actually acknowledging that we have racism. Many live in denial.

  44. @Doctor No. Not quite the "original sin". Me thinks that the genocide of the Native Americans might take this dubious distinction.

  45. @Doctor No

    No "we " are not still paying a price for black African enslavement. In the 2016 Presidential election of the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump were 58% of white voters including 63% of white men and 54% of white women.

    MAGA!

  46. America: meet some of your bequeathed: Emmett Till. Tulsa. Chicago. Springfield (Illinois). And that’s just a drop in the bucket.

    I almost broke down reading this, Mr. Blow. Seems like when black folks throughout American history have done all the right things; have checked off all the right boxes that white folks checked off—been industrious; been frugal and thrifty; been enterprising; been law-abiding; sent children to school; served in the military—none of that has seemed to matter.

    What a lot of white folks won’t want to own is that they have a history of violence in America. Yet, to hear President Trump go on about violence in urban America (“what the hell do you have to lose?”) black folks just up and kill people, loot, destroy and on and on.

    None of the Tulsa criminals were prosecuted. One doubts if the “authorities” ever sought them out, as they surely would have had the situation been reversed. Most white Americans don’t want this conversation, captive to Donald Trump’s America in resentful, willful denial. They’re the aggrieved majority, horrified—yes, horrified—by all the rampaging, murdering, looting, thieving, home and dream and life-destroying interlopers on “their” land that their “dear leader” is trying desperately to return to—a place that always existed in their fevered imaginations.

    I envy your time with the gorgeous Ms. Olivia Hooker, Mr. Blow, a witness to history indeed. But, as has been recently said, “the past is not dead; it’s never even past.”

  47. Is there anyway a white person raised in a privileged middle income family can relate to or understand this ugly piece of American history? I think not. Thank you Charles for a great and important column.

  48. @Milton Lewis,

    Shutting your imagination to the possibility of "others" understanding your narrative is the first step on a dangerous path.

    Agree that this event should be included in US history textbooks and should be broadcast much more widely.

  49. Racism is an application of collectivism. Collectivism is the politics of rightist nationalism and leftist egalitarianism. The alternative is capitalist individualism.

  50. I would challenge you to try to state this “belief” in a somewhat longer narrative form WITHOUT using a single “ism”-word. I don’t imagine you would be able to do so coherently. What you say here with all your “ism”s simply defies sense.

  51. @The Wizard

    Sri Aurobindo, who initiated the Indian independence movement that Gandhi later took over, referred to capitalism various as "economic barbarism," "competitive individualism," and as "Titanic" (the Greek equivalent of the Indian Asura, the mythical figure of monstrous evil).

    As to the "individualism" which right wing libertarians so zealously promote, he referred to this as the eager pursuit of more "elbow-room" for selfish desires.

    In striking contrast, he saw the realization of the French triad of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in what he called "spiritual anarchism."

    In what may be a supreme irony, it is often in remarkably organic, tight-knit African-American communities where you can most easily find the spirituality that integrates liberty and equality, the ideal that Sri Aurobindo hoped to see manifest one day in India.

  52. @The Wizard, clearly capitalism is not incompatible with egalitarianism, nor is racism incompatible with capitalism (as our history shows). You're using the logical fallacy of dogmatism. (Btw, the argument you repeat was first used by the John Birch Society in the 1960s--that "collectivism" of any nature, including Medicare, hotly contested at the time, led to authoritarianism.)

  53. Thank you for writing this. During Black history month, I tried to find any first-hand accounts of this massacre. I failed. This story should not disappear from our history.

  54. Excellent article. I regret that I never had more education about the real nature of slavery and the real nature of what we did to Native Americans. I'm going to google the Tulsa Riots and see what information I can find.

    When the race riots of the late 1960's happened; and when the LA riots happened it received naitonal attention. The Tulsa Riots of white against blacks has been buried.

  55. And you for sharing your visit with this strong, articulate lady. It’s vital for all of us to be reminded that our history of slavery, of Jim Crow, of segregation and the civil rights movement is not remote. My husband’s grandfather (not great grandfather) was born a slave. This vein of hatred still runs close to the surface in our country. Trump’s ascent and the racism and destruction he encourages makes it clear: ongoing vigilance and strong voices are required of all of us. We must pay attention and we must vote.

  56. It should also be noted that somehow this NEVER appears in history textbooks, at any level, that I have seen. No wonder those it serves have little difficulty convincing people that such thing never happened, that they're just "fake news".

    If we think we can continue to sanitize history in a time when information is increasingly available and at great speed, we're wrong. We're also wrong if we think we aren't and won't pay a price for what is in reality, simply lying about our history.

  57. Mr Charles, thanks for the great journalism; I think you have to keep writing more of these stories. The fact is that some Americans, native born or immigrants, don’t have the full grasp of how slavery and racism decimated the lives of many African Americans. Many will learn a lot here and hopefully can put things in perspective. Again thanks for your great work!

  58. "They had cause to believe that his personal safety, like the defense of themselves and their community, depended on them alone." This quote from the Tulsa Historical Society shows the African-American community decided to put the whole community at risk for the sake of one individual which the local authorities were doing there best to protect. Of course the White community including the Militiamen, was more heavily armed and, of course, took advantage of the opportunity to 'keep the community in it's place.' It is unfortunate that Ms. Hooker experienced what she did, but a more clear picture of the riot could have been given.

  59. @Richard Mclaughlin: On the contrary, you give an incomplete picture. From Wikipedia:

    "After he was taken into custody, rumors raced through the black community that he was at risk of being lynched. A group of armed African-American men rushed to the police station where the young suspect was held, to prevent a lynching, as a white crowd had gathered."

    It's a sad fact that the risk of lynching was great, even though this man was merely *accused*, and not a fugitive.

  60. My black wife's family came from Southern Mississippi and settled in Central Massachusetts. Her father had a good job in a factory but wanted to be independent, so he bought a pickup truck and got into the scrap metal business. That turned out to be very lucrative, and he made a lot of money, but he lived a very quiet, low-key life and didn't flaunt his wealth. He told me he did that because "if white people know you've got something, they want to take it away from you." My people who were in the Mafia did something similar. They lived in the neighborhood in tenements so as not to call attention to themselves and have the law investigate them. Same tactic, different reasons.

  61. @baldinoc one honest man kept a low profile so as not to have jealous whites take it from him. How is that comparable to a criminal who also had his reasons for keeping a low profile?

  62. Thank you for introducing us to such a wonderful accomplished woman. Clearly she's tough, she didn't let the trauma stop her from living an extraordinary life.

  63. This small-scale holocaust should be not just in books, but in all junior and/or high school curricula. Does Tulsa have a permanent exhibit on this disgrace in its town hall--where it can be easily viewed? It should.

  64. There is a simple numbers game going on, and that is one of demographics.

    The people that remember the huge injustices of the past are coming to an end within their lives. They are passing on those memories while they can, so that we do not forget.

    On the flip side, there are the ones that were the proponents of those injustices that are coming to an end within their lives as well, and will no longer be able to pass that on.

    We are reaching a tipping point where the color of our character, and not of our skin will be the only measuring of someone.

  65. Australia has its own history in relation to the treatment of the indigenous tribes who were dispossessed when the English decided to establish a colony and a giant jail here. Eventually we became a country and since then we have been making spasmodic efforts to right the wrongs of the past. The report card is mixed. This fascinating piece by Charles Blow should receive a wide audience within the US. It is only by knowing and understanding history that we benefit from the lessons it gives us.

  66. As an aside, it's interesting how little is ever reported about the decimation of the Native American Indians and what they are dealing with today. The atrocities they experienced are akin to the catching of slaves in Africa - you all moved in on them willingly or not- and you ignore their existence. America never was that great and the more I read about your country the less capable of it ypu seem to be.

  67. Thank you, Mr. Blow, sitting down to talk with that remarkable survivor. Tulsa one of those many events that has marked our history that we Americans are so reluctant to acknowledge, let alone atone for.

    It reminded of the many years my wife and I spent in Chile when it was trying to come to terms with the deep wounds left by the Pinochet dictatorship. The Chileans, to their great credit, have had two official truth commissions that revealed the nature of that dark legacy - the 3,000 plus "disappeared," political persecution of tens of thousands more, and the documented torture of at least 40,000 more. The most eloquent testimony on torture victims came from those who survived, as Olivia Hooker did, and from their families and friends. But as your article so eloquently suggests, the trauma of distant events can haunt so many lives even of those who did not suffer or witness them directly.

  68. Thank you, Mr. Blow for retelling this tragic bit of history. I heard about the Tulsa Riot on NPR a year or so ago. My heart ached listening. And as I read your article my heart aches for all the folks who worked so hard to succeed only to have evil destroy it.

    Unfortunately, the evil of racism remains intact in our nation. We cannot change what many do not acknowledge. Racism is real, it’s evil roams our land. Sigh.

  69. I am white and lived and worked in Tulsa for a year and a half in the late 1960s, and never knew about or heard about the horrible race riot until later. I didn't know why the city was so white.

  70. "Strange Fruit" recorded by a current vocal recording star would hit No. 1 on the charts the day of its release. Because the sentiments in the song live today.

  71. ...that racism and racial violence is shocking and haunting and you carry it with you, both communally and individually, in blunt injury and in excruciating detail, down to the image of the beautiful biscuits being tossed in the mud."

    Beautifully written.

    And I trust that gives you greater insight into the memories and emotions of white people in many cities who lived through the urban rioting of the 1960s through today. Oftentimes, white business owners were looted, shot at, intimidated by rioters, and told to leave the neighborhood or be boycotted ("activist" Sonny Carson knows all about this). And oftentimes these same white business owners had seemingly sensitive and cordial relations with their black clientele...till one day.

    I wasn't around in Tulsa in 1921, but I was around when urban neighborhoods changed racial identities, people argued and hated and burned, and "leaders" like the Rev. Al Sharpton created a hoax to see if he could get the tinder box to explode, and then refused to admit his lies.

    I suppose when people act as a mob out of hate, there is an absence of light which no excuse can justify, and the darkness leaves its scars for generations.

    I'm glad you reported this story.

    You have more reporting to do.

  72. @Jubilee133
    Your comment reminds me of whataboutism. The urban riots of the 60s, which stemmed from racial injustice, have zero to do with the Tulsa Massacre, other than being about race. And people are taught about those riots - probably because they fit the narrative of violent black people, unlike the Tulsa Massacre and the others much like it that we also don't learn of.

    And, no, those white business owners don't need greater insight, then or now. They - and I suspect you - need to recognize their part in the continuation of a country that was built on the premise of White Male Supremacy and continues on that premise to this day. And then they need to work with everyone else to make it a just system that isn't biased toward white male as the definition of normal from which all others deviate.

    Charles does indeed have more reporting to do, but it isn't about urban riots from the perspective of white people - that's been done. He does need to keep writing these unknown and unheard stories about the true heroes in our midst, those who survive horrific events and are not broken by them and live beyond the expectations of society around them.

  73. @Jubilee133
    By "more reporting" I assume you mean on the systemic and institutionalized racism which ensured that people of color could only live in certain neighborhoods. Perhaps if the black residents of Greenwood were permitted to live in peace and prosperity, and black Americans EVERYWHERE were afforded the same rights, protections and opportunities as white Americans, the climate of the 50s/60s would have been much different. One should not expect to tread on the lives, livelihoods and dignity of a people for centuries and then be able to complain that the circumstances created by those actions result in events like those that occurred in the 50s/60s.

  74. Mr. Blow, thank you. What gives me hope, every day, is when I walk outside with my dog and get to chat with the beautiful young people walking toward Howard university law school.

  75. Olivia Hooker can be heard talking about this in a vivid short NPR piece: https://n.pr/2D5qE7F and there's a short video interview here: https://bit.ly/2kCFTtx -- "I refuse to call it a riot," she remarks, and I have to agree with her there.

  76. "Hooker said it made her question her sense of belonging in this country, as well as the patriotic songs she learned as a child."

    My God. How could it do otherwise?

    My thanks to doctor Olivia J. Hooker for doing more than her share to elevate the human race.

  77. Every time the Black honors student is inexplicably passed over when the school distributes the senior year awards; or when the corporation shunts the bright Black intern into the "minority program" while others go into the rotations; or the professor betrays his assumption that the bright Black college student must only be there because of an "unfair" program that gave a leg up; or the capable Black manager is ignored, dismissed, and talked over and has his or her ideas taken by others for their own in meetings and conference calls; or the capable Black manager is continually passed over for promotion into the higher ranks, Greenwood happens all over again

  78. please go out and find more people like her and tell us their stories

    if that's how you use your column for the next decade, it would be worth it

    there is no progress without truth and reconciliation

  79. Mr. Blow, thank you for reminding your reader to actively consider whether each of US, today, is complacent, and even complicit, actively as well as passively, in a continuum and not a misleading either/or state in America's tradition- anchored WE-THEY culture which continues to seed, promote, enable, and harvest violating created, targeted and selected "the other!" His/her ethnicity. Gender and gender identity. Weight. Height and other selected characteristics. Age. "Color." Birthplace. Religion. Language.State of homelessness. By words voiced.By done deeds.Harming limbs, psyches and lives.Excluding. Marginalizing. Dehumanizing.Humiliating. Discriminating.Traumatizing. And by a range of ommissions. When we witness the violating and remain silent.Willfully blind.Deaf. Ignorant about the range of not-remembered, not-noted, Tulsa's. Long before 1921. As well as since.Willful ever-present self-deceit. That no one was punished THEN is yet another face of a culture in which personal accountability is little more than a word. Surely not a norm! Nor an ethical, menschlich, daily, guideline.Within a socio-political framework. in which limited human and nonhuman resources for well being, in safe living quarters, are equitably shared.Underpinned by mutual trust.Mutual respect.Caring.Mutual help, when and if needed.For those whom we know. For strangers whom we may choose to get to know. Or not.Hidden history needs uncovering. Perhaps an ongoing column: WE-THEY-US: (RE)Considered

  80. Terrible things happened in the world. Instead of dwell on it, learn the lessons, and move forward. Make sure that nothing similar happen to anybody, anytime. All the people are capable of doing such atrocities, so, I won't blame whites alone for all atrocities.

  81. @Alex E
    Lessons can be learned only if history is learned. Some (actually too many) are much too willing not to learn, or simply ignore, the inhuman acts perpetrated by one group upon another in the past. From there it only takes a few small step to actual participation in harming fellow citizens, under illogical pretenses (religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation..). That is why the current WH and congressional leaderships and their supporters are so dangerous and have to be stopped.

  82. But it's still going on. If we aren't massacring native Americans, we are destroying and exploiting their land. As for African-Americans, we aren't lynching them but shooting them, not enslaving them on the land but in prisons, making them victims of predatory loans, destroying their neighborhoods with development, etc. The violence and exploitation go on, in different ways.

  83. @Alex E If people dwelled on it, we would not have commenters stating that they were not familiar with the Tulsa Race Riot. This story and others like it must be told. This country will not move forward until we lay bare and deal with our ENTIRE history. Stop attempting to diminish a horrible event and Dr. Hooker's painful memories.

  84. I am aware of The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921! I thank you for writing this article to make people who are not aware of this past history; AWARE! Thank you, again!

  85. The U.S. Coast Guard has honored the military service of Dr. Hooker by naming a section of seminar rooms at USCG Headquarters after Dr. Hooker.

  86. Thank you for the wonderful yet heart-rending column, Charles. It reminds of the pogroms in the Russian Pale of Settlement.

  87. Just yesterday I read an excellent piece in CJR on Tucker Carlson who authored this gem "“The idea that I’d be responsible for the sins (or, for that matter, share in the glory of the accomplishments) of dead people who happened to share my skin tone has always confused me,”

    No shame with this twit...

  88. Despicable people like Carlson readily accept the benefits inherited from the acts of the past (think WWII), but refuse any of the responsibilities (slavery etc.).

  89. From what I remember reading of this incident, it was a fabricated, and inflammatory account by the media, of an alleged incident of a violation by a black male of a white girl that was the cause of this riot. False information was used to incite this action against a town of innocent people attempting to live as normal a life as was possible for them in that place.The same usage of false witness, that has been repeated many times over since then against other groups of peoples, for the justification to take actions against them.

    We are headed to a place in time that will fully reveal the truth of this abhorrent use of this newly acquired mass communication in our past for the exploitation of others. A return to a restoration of the quality of our information to where it should be.

  90. Fascinating article; despicable episode in US history. It took place at the same time as the on-going exploitation and murders of many Osage Indians, close to Tulsa, described in David Grann's bestselling history, "Killers of the Flower Moon." The Tulsa Race Riot and the murders of the Osage are different kinds of crime, but they have in common the maddening venomous envy that many white people feel when they observe the comfort and security of people of color.

  91. Please look up the New York City draft riots of 1863 and the impact on the African American community in Manhattan. Wikipedia provides an excellent summary.

  92. Charles, I wish you had designated this article as NSFW, because now I'm crying and I am trapped in my office without tissues. This one really got to me.

  93. Thank you, Charles, for this history lesson. I had not heard of the Tulsa riot until I read your column. It was a despicable act and should be widely taught. I wonder if some memorial exists to remember the event and the people who suffered. There certainly should be one.

    And thank you for introducing me to Dr. Hooker. I enjoy meeting people who are an inspiration to others. God bless her.

  94. This should be read by every American.

  95. i lived in Tulsa for over 20 years, moving there from the NorthEast. Initially I wondered why one portion of the population all lived North of downtown. I learned. My favorite memory was an early MLK parade, which was just the locals marching down the streets of North Tulsa. A lovely older woman came up and joined hands with my partner and I as we all sang We Shall Overcome. While I was in the minority that day, things did start to change. For that moment at least, we were all equal Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

  96. There are several excellent books about this event. One which is historical fiction as the characters are imagined but the events are not is : Fire in Beulah by Rilla Askew written in 2001. She is a contemporary writer who lives in both N Y and in OK each year. It its heartrending to read. I teach history and know teachers in Oklahoma. This event was buried for decades. However there has been a curriculum in place to teach it for some years now and Tulsa citizens are attempting to confront the racist past of the community. My friends tell me that it is quite difficult to teach as it tends to upset the students. But their district has begun to hold special trainings for teachers as the district has learned that it is hard to teach about this; it is such a recent wound and outrage. As the author points out in this excellent interview there are still people living who experienced this or they know that just one or two generations back their family experienced this. The school district has held a series of "equity " forums for the city and this event, among other subjects, has been explored. There have been several police shootings of unarmed black men in Tulsa in recent years-rather high profile.
    I am so sorry about what Dr. Hooker went through a child. She had a wonderful family and thank God they were able to protect her. And in Texas; at our border more children are being deliberately traumatized . Why do we not learn ?

  97. This story was exhaustively researched and told excellently in the book "Death in a Promised Land" by Scott Ellsworth, a native Tulsan. Recommended if you want to learn more.

  98. In my opinion, the most important line from the story is, “My family had never told me about hate,” said Hooker. “I didn’t know what that was.”

    People have to be taught to hate. It isn’t natural. From what does hate originate? fear of what isn’t known? Lack of self-confidence and self-respect that pushes one to try to reduce the status of whatever is strange to them? Some experience that made one afraid?

    I hadn’t heard about the event discussed in the article. I have no connection to Tulsa or anybody there. I never visited the place. But it doesn’t make me feel less ashamed that it occurred.

    I fear that, with the divisive leaders in place and the acceptance of their actions by others in appointed and elected positions, this is the way things are headed. In fact, I’m surprised that acts of violence related to the administration Mr. Blow - I know you didn’t write this piece to “sell three more papers and earn three more shekels” and I hope you keep it up. But there are a lot of people who don’t read the Times and are less informed as a result. I guess I’ll have to make some gift subscriptions in the next few days.

  99. Excellent. Thank you Charles!

  100. Mr. Blow, Thanks for the history lesson. I'm ashamed to say I didn't know anything about the Tulsa Race Riot. But then, this is why I read your column religiously.

  101. I believe there is a film about the attacks in Tulsa. I haven't seen it, but I did see another film called Rosewood, about the similar destruction of a black town in Florida, in 1923.

    If you are not aware of these ugly events in our nation's history, it's important to educate yourself. This was less than 100 years ago. Racist violence is still with us and we need to stop pretending it was over long ago... It's worse now because the president openly encourages it and his supporters are emboldened... It's a disgrace...

  102. @sfdphd
    And Wilmington, NC

  103. Really great work Charles. Thank you for visiting Olivia and conveying her story - and that of her family and community - to me.

    Racism is the history of an error. The fault of seeing superficial differences in appearance and not underlying similarity of form. Of not appreciating that the command of all of a language indicates that a human brain is in all our heads - and all of those are grey in tone or "colour". Of not recognising that peculiar gifts are not universally shared or monopolised by all who look the same, but allocated without chauvinism or prejudice to select individuals - more or less equally - of all groups of different shape and shade. Of not giving all a chance to shine, as freely as they may, as the individual human persons they each are. Of not respecting and cherishing the fine art and work of all others - that we may all benefit from - regardless of the particular "race", of the doer of the well done.

    Many thanks again Charles.

  104. Thank you for presenting Dr. Hooker's story to us.

    Sadly this wasn't an isolated incident. After WW1 blacks returning from the American Expeditionary Force were often lynched in uniform. Birth of a Nation, endorsed by President Wilson, resurrected the Klan, even in the North. Lynch mobs slaughtered dozens of blacks at a time in Tulsa, E. St. Louis, Rosewood, Florida and elsewhere.

    How people in Dr. Olivia Hooker's generation made it so far is an inspiring testament to the unbreakable character of the human spirit. How much better off would we all be if the people of her generation had simply been allowed to live in peace?

  105. It's especially infuriating as the Harlem Hellfighters made the greatest sacrifice and had the largest number of casualties of any US troops sent to France.

  106. Thank you for sharing this story. It is unfortunate that the complete story of the non-white people of the United States has never been told. In graduate school, I focused on black studies, and it was only then that I learned the whole truth. I wonder how many people who saw BlackkLansman, are aware that the horrific event that Harry Belafonte recounts was real and reported on by W.E.B. DuBois. Teaching the full story of black America is essential.

  107. Mr. Blow sometimes in simple words and not so simple stories lies the greatest most complex truths.

    Thank you as always for your writing.

  108. Ovlivia J. Hooker sounds like an amazing woman. 103 years old and still sharp. We should all be so lucky.

    As Charles Blow writes:
    “Not only was she the first African-American women to join the Coast Guard, not only was she a psychology professor and activist, but she is one of the last known survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921”

    But the article isnt about her accomplishments, and what she did to achieve them. It is about her being a victim of a race riot that occurred four generations ago. She may have carried the images of that terrible trauma with her but she clearly didn’t let it define her or hold her back. Four generations later that is the life lesson we should acknowledge and celebrate.

  109. Mr. Blow,
    Thank you for this story. It prompted me to watch the full movie about it on youtube. I was stunned that I had never heard of this before.

  110. Thank you for writing about this. I am a 67 year old white woman and I never even knew about this atrocity. Its a powerful and important account from a very impressive American woman.

  111. I grew up in Bartlesville, just north of Tulsa, in the 50s and 60s. No one ever talked about the riot, which was a white race riot. It was never mentioned in school or church. It was like it never happened. I only learned about it many years later after I left Oklahoma.

  112. @wgnichols4
    You lived in Bartlesville at the time they fired the city librarian for allowing black children to come to the library.
    The trumped up some charges that she was a communist but racism was the reason.

  113. Thank you Charles for brilliant piece ... honestly, I don't know what else to say but, well done!!

  114. White elected leader says Make America Great Again on behalf of white people, he receives a standing ovation. A professional black athlete says lets Make America Great Again for all Americans including minorities, he gets his jersey burned, receive death threats, and gets booed by a white audience. What does America really stand for? What are Americans are afraid of when minorities stand up for equal treatment and equal justice under the law?

  115. I want this incident to be permanently renamed to reflect what it actually was: The Tulsa Race Massacre. There was no riot. There was a coordinated terrorist action by the KKK against a large, peaceful, prosperous African American neighborhood that killed many and utterly destroyed their homes, businesses, and property. Massacre, not "riot".

  116. @Bruce
    Actually it wasn't a massacre.
    There would have been a much larger death total if it was and only black people would have been killed.
    Don't believe me.
    Do some independent research.

  117. I can't believe this story is unknown to so many white people, but I suppose that's the result of the luxury we've always enjoyed to shut the Black American History book whenever things get too uncomfortable. Look up Red Summer of 1919, the Atlanta (1906), East St. Louis (1917), and Chicago (1919) race riots, Rosewood, and one that's especially relevant now, the Wilmington Uprising of 1898.

  118. Don't forget the 1863 draft riots in NY.

  119. Were there fine people on both sides in Tulsa as in Charlottesville?

  120. "The past is never dead. It's not even past." This was written by Faulkner, a sensitive soul trying to make sense of a region where incest was preferable to miscegenation ("Absalom, Absalom") and a privileged son of said region would rather kill himself than return to the hell that was the American South. Hell for everyone. For the Cherokee who were forced off their land in Georgia and made to walk the Trail of Tears. For the Blacks who were scapegoated, murdered, reviled--and silenced. But also hell for the whites who participated in the atrocities or looked the other way when they occurred. The guilt must have been overwhelming. No wonder whites tried so hard to pretend it never happened. How could they look into the eyes of their children, their young Billy Faulkners and explain away the atrocities? Children know better. They have an instinctive sense of the humanity of others. Their love for other people has to be beaten out of them.

    The silence in the history books about Tulsa compounds the tragedy. It pretends that such episodes are exceptions to the rule of the American Dream when in fact they have been all too common. The silence is proportional to the intense embarrassment that modern whites feel when forced to confront and explain the past--that is never really past--to their children and explain the sorry state of the present. White privilege is not a gift. It is a soul killing curse. Silence is not golden. Silence kills. Mr. Blow, please keep writing.

  121. @McCamy Taylor
    Beautifully written article and comment. Thank you both.

  122. One must wonder whether the white Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 has ever appeared in any high school civics or history books in America, up to the present, particularly in chapters devoted to instances of violent civil disturbances, most likely only chronicling black-based incidents. Thank you Mr. Blow, for enlightening your readership about yet another forgotten and censored episode of unrestrained white supremacy at work in this country.

  123. @John Grillo--I taught the race riot when I taught history in Tulsa for about ten years (late '80s/mid '90s). My high school students certainly learned what had happened on the northern side of downtown Tulsa, and they learned that it was indeed white racism that fomented this disastrous event. I know of many other teachers from my time in Tulsa who also taught it. The race riot was in the Oklahoma history books that we used then, and there was no claim therein that black citizens started the riot.

  124. Dr. Hooker. Love it!

  125. My dad was transferred from NY to Tulsa when he worked for the FAA. Believe me, Mr. Blow, very little has changed there. My dad couldn’t get over the culture shock of being thrust into the land of ignorant racists.

  126. Thank you for your article, Charles. I am regularly amazed at the number of people in both Tulsa and the country at large who know nothing about the Tulsa Massacre. You may find it interesting that Tara Brooke Watkins, originally from Oklahoma, is currently working on a PhD in Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Tufts University. She learned of the events in Tulsa while doing research and not when she was growing up in Oklahoma. She collected stories and then wrote and produced a powerful play presented in Tulsa this past summer. The play had an entirely black cast of Tulsa actors. You may want to talk with her, as her goal is to make this history more available to the general public and especially to young people. Every American needs to own our history and work together to make our future more positive.

  127. I first learned my American history growing up in the UK - obviously much less extensively than American students were taught. A bit of a British slant mentioned how entrenched slavery remained after its abolition by the Brits, and how Lancashire cotton workers showed solidarity with the slaves even though they were thrown out of work by an embargo on southern cotton during the civil war. Nevertheless, the history of slavery was mostly ignored; we may have learned about the British abolitionists, but nothing about British merchants who profited from the slave trade.

    Fast forward to my American life. Living near the border, I found that CBC Radio was a wonderful source for news and features that didn't cover only Canada. That's how I learned about the Tulsa race riot, probably around the time of its 75th anniversary. I never saw it mentioned in American media until today, so thank you Charles.

    Of course, the US isn't unique in underplaying unsavory aspects of its history. What's so disquieting about today's America is that many of its people are nostalgic for their own versions of it. A sleeping monster is awakening, and not without prodding from the WH.

  128. I am a 72 yr old white guy that grew up in a white town in Massachusetts. I was shocked at the way our black families were treated in the news from the south, like the school issues, the segragation etc. . I never met a black man until I was in the Navy. As a leader in a combat center on an aircraft carrier, I had to help make everyone the best, my eyes never saw color, only success. And once again, you remind us of the evil in the minds of some people is still happening today, but a lot more sophisticated and yet out in the open. Thank you for writing this column.

  129. For those who wish to silence the witnesses of the past, W.B.Yeats summed up why we must remember in "Easter 1919."

    "Too long a sacrifice
    Can make a stone of the heart.
    O when may it suffice?
    That is Heaven's part, our part
    To murmur name upon name,
    As a mother names her child"

    In a country that is still divided along ethnic lines, it might help some whites to remember that once upon a time their own ancestors were the victims of a purge. They ought to ask themselves how would they feel if told to forget.

  130. @McCamy Taylor: That was "Easter 1916." It saddens me that so many with Irish names are oppressors here: Ryan, McCarthy, Brady, Mulvaney: they birth no terrible beauty.

  131. Coveting the things of others is what has caused a lot of evil in the world, not just the United States.

    I'm sad that the century plus year old woman had to endure hate as a small child. I'm afraid the hate will probably be around after she and everyone else alive now will be gone.

  132. You had an unbelievable and unforgettable experience with Dr. Hooker. Thank you for sharing it with us. Given the hatred and divisiveness which plagued 1910 and seem to rule today's politics, it seems just as unbelievable that LBJ managed to get the civil rights act of '64 and the voting rights act of '65 passed and signed into law. After the passage of the civil rights act, LBJ was elected in 1964 with one of the largest popular vote margins in history. OH, USA, where have you gone?

  133. I had no knowledge of these evets until reading this column. Thank you, Charles Blow.
    This story needs to be taught in every middle and high school in the country as part of the regular curriculum. It is long past time for this nation to learn ALL of its history.

  134. Professor Hooker sounds like an amazing woman. One whose story should be told for it holds up a mirror to our country's history of racism.

  135. This all lives on in Trump.

  136. "American history is full of stories of black people doing precisely what America says it wants of its citizens — being creative, enterprising and industrious, being self-respecting and self-sufficient — only to have white people destroy what they’ve built, impede their progress and erase their wealth."

    I think there's something about bigots that can't stand to see success in those they revile. Hence, they go burn it up rather than accept the fact the objects of their contempt might have actually made something of their lives.

    That photo of Charles and Olivia Hooker is priceless--she with the wide smile and dainty body, lost in her recliner yet beaming at the chance to provide oral history.

    Another line in this column also jumped out at me: when Hooker remarks, “It took years for me to get over the shock of seeing people be so horrible to people who had done them no wrong.”

    Isn't that the truth of oppression everywhere?Random acts of violence--crimes, to put it midly--committed against people they didn't even know or who "had done them no wrong."

    Man's inhumanity toward man knows no boundaries of time, place, color, or history.

  137. @ChristineMcM: The brightest and most industrious were singled out for destruction by the KKK.

  138. Thanks you, Charles, for an important remembrance from an eye witness, and not a single mention of Donald Trump. It’s an important statement about the indomitable will of a distinguished woman who experienced such atrocity so young, yet came back to make her own sizable dent in her world.

    Are you back?

  139. This is a part of American history that America doesn't want to know about.
    And while many African-Americans are aware of this story of the Tulsa riots, many also have similar stories of their own to tell.
    Thank you, Charles Blow for telling this one.
    The relatives on my father's side of the family lived through something similar being educated and of means -- something almost unheard of at that time.
    They had to endure the intimidation, the plundering, the threats, not only had the temerity of being educated, but because as light-skinned Blacks they could literally "pass", for white.
    But that still didn't stop my grandfather and his brother from taunting the whites who chased them from their property, even after they received death threats for doing so.
    My grandfather moved to New York, as did his brother, who unfortunately made the grave decision of returning down South again where he was never heard from again.
    This is why stories such as these from Tulsa are so important in coming to understand not only the history of the Diaspora in this country, but why now, especially now why it is vital to stand up against the tyranny of racial discrimination and oppression, and remember a history that has long been erased or forgotten.
    So than you again, Mr. Blow for this wonderful story and testament to the past.
    It has taken a long time to get this far...We won't go back.

  140. Thank you for an important story, beautifully told. And thank you for the photo. What a precious encounter!

  141. Agreed! Thanks for the story.

  142. And we have the audacity to argue about some athletes choosing to kneel during the national anthem? We should all take a knee, every last one of us. Then get up and vote the racist out of the White House.

  143. @Michael Amen to that! Well said; we should ALL take a knee and engage in peaceful protest at what is still happening in this country.

  144. A moving, beautiful essay. And with this sentence we should writ large across our hearts:

    "History doesn’t stay stuck in the time that it happens. That is only where it is born, after which it is alive and moving with us through time and space."

  145. @Concerned Mother Exactly the quote I just highlighted and was going to comment upon. You have stated it as simply and eloquently as this essay is written.

  146. Thank you Mr. Blow for this snapshot of America's past. I applaud you for turning your lens on an historical story which many have never been exposed to.

    The question is why is that so given the fact that it is pretty easy to find a number of books that have talked about the history of "Black Wall Street?"

    My guess is that the answer is the difference between history books and history textbooks.

    There are history books written with truth and rigor by historians of merit about what has truly happened in America's past and then there are the history textbooks written for our public schools which for all intents and purposes are the myths of an America (bordering on fairy tales) that those who have approved their purchase want children to believe.

    The truth is out there. It sadly is too often sequestered away from those who need to hear it the most: our next generation.

  147. Once again, thank you for reminding us to not neglect history and memory!
    My daughter told me that her doctoral advisor said one day,- that the miracle is that we have survived.
    I'm reminded daily of the trauma suffered by African Americans and the myths and lies perpetuated about our conditions. We've worked hard, we've overcome barriers, we've had hope and carried on in spite of systemic barriers (laws, policies, norms) that have prevented our grasping and holding on to the "American Dream."
    Let's remember, the people of Tulsa and so many more who truly represent our genius, fortitude, morality, dignity, creativity and continue to move our children in these directions, without neglecting the systemic changes that must be made to level the field.

  148. My (white) grandmother told me that when she was five years old, she remembers peeking out the curtains of her house that day and seeing wagon-loads of bodies, loaded with black victims, headed towards the Arkansas river, which was several blocks away. There have long been rumors that a lot of them were either buried on the other side of the river, or simply tossed in it. My grandmother has been gone some 17 years now, but I think what she saw that day haunted her for the rest of her life. In Greenwood today, there are many bronze markers on the sidewalks where the businesses once stood, with the names of each one engraved on them.

  149. At an event last night to honor the work, Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston, I mentioned Black Wall Street. When I visit her home of Eatonville Florida, the oldest African American incorporated town in the country, which suffered much of what Black Wall Street did, but due to the strength and determination of Eatonville, it still stands today! And Black Wall Street is a long lost memory.

    Which proves that Zora Neale Hurston, who challenged the sensibilities of Northern folks, was right in her views about self determination.

  150. I had never heard of the Tulsa riot until reading James Loewen’s excellent “Lies My Teacher Told Me.” I was shocked, and then angry that this history had been literally whitewashed out of my sight. Also, the fact that this well-documented loss of property, life and livelihood was never recompensed by the government is a disgrace. Reparations for the families of Greenwood victims should still happen.

  151. Don't think that Tulsa might not happen again. In fact the best evidence that something might be committed by one group of people to another is that it had been committed before. The potential is there. It just needs the right combination of circumstances. Just look at Charlottesville.

  152. Mr. Blow - I never miss your beautifully written op-ed contributions. This is one of the most moving and pertinent. What a beautiful photo. On this day of tragedy in northern Massachusetts and destruction in the Carolinas, your words and views give me hope and brought a smile to my heart. Bravo.

  153. Thank you for sharing this interview.

  154. What a great picture! And a terrible part of our history. Thanks for the article.

  155. Our American economy is based on competition, it is a daily competition for our very survival. Competition turns neighbors into enemies. If someone else has something then it must have been at my expense.

    Racism is America's original sin; but, our economic competition makes us all turn against each other, race, religion, political party and geography just give us easily identifiable targets.

    We need a new economic system that makes us all part of the same team. That doesn't mean it has to be communism or socialism, we are smart enough to figure out how to make capitalism work for everyone if we really wanted to try.

  156. I hope Charles Blow writes more like this: ideally, first hand encounters with people and their experiences. He is a wonderful writer. His preoccupation with Trump has been masking his true talents.

  157. Could you follow up with interviews with any surviving children of rioters. Presumably, like the rest of us, many of them are unaware of what their forebears did. Knowledge of historic oppresion is important in order for people today to understand simmering resentments.

  158. Thank you for reminding us that what some people would like to portray as ancient history is in fact living memory. My grandfather, 1910-2006, would speak to me of older relatives who had been enslaved. He told me about seeing confederate veterans marching near his home in Richmond to memorials in Oakwood cemetery. We must face these facts together, or continue to be destroyed by our lies and willful ignorance.

  159. One of the most dangerous and destructive traits of the human psyche is the feeling of "otherness." It can leave us feeling threatened and afraid of those we perceive as "other" and cause us to strike out. That feeling combined with mob mentality has led to heart-wrenching atrocities like the Tulsa attack.

    When we segregate ourselves into communities based on race, religion or ethnicity, we put ourselves in danger of compartmentalising ourselves to the detriment of society as a whole. Of course it is more comfortable for us to do this especially when there are clear power differences among these groups. It can take a real effort to reach beyond this tendency and simply be accepting, not judgmental, of our differences. In this effort we can never afford to lose sight of the hard lessons history gives us, particularly when we have individuals like Dr. Hooker available to give the history a human face.

  160. Slavery is the stain this country can never wash out. (Native American genocide blots the other side of the fabric) Stories like these confirm my resolve to keep saying that. Thanks to Charles for digging this one up.

  161. I'm glad Mr. Blow has shared Dr. Hooker's sorry with us. I wish he had taken his commentary further with these two points:

    1) While the Tulsa riots were clearly a matter of white-on-black violence, which has an undeniably larger larger and wider historical parallel in this country, the perpetrators of such senseless acts are no longer exclusively white nor the victims exclusively black, as we have seen in more recent episodes. Dr. Hooker's recollections serve as a reminder of the senselessness of mob violence regardless of race.

    2) Her experience also serves as a cautionary tale of how a mob mentality can infect and debase otherwise good, considerate people, as the whites in Tulsa that Dr. Hooker saw as a child might well have been. We all would do well to reflect how the current sparks of outrage, spread by social media, could place us just a few triggers away from witnessing the work of a mob ourselves. Our current political and social upheaval will eventually pass, making it extremely important that cooler heads, and our better nature, should prevail in the meantime.

  162. I remember hearing about this story when I was a child in Oklahoma. I overheard my mother and grandmother whispering about it in the kitchen one summer day. They were whispering about it out of earshot of my Grandfather who was in the KKK (this was in the early 70s). They were talking about what a shame everyone couldn’t just get along and how my grandfather has just gone to a “meeting” and his buddies said they needed to do something else about the folks that were getting to “uppity” in the area. So, as child who was rather a pain, I asked them to tell me the story they said that some mean people had burned down “blacktown” in Tulsa when grandma was young. Just the bare facts for a 7 year old kid. I was also warned to NEVER talk about this outside the house, and absolutely never to mention it to my grandfather. Have things changed during the intervening years in OK? A bit, but not nearly enough. Thanks for your story and stirring the souvenir of those hot summer days mixed with secrets. Keep up the good work #resist

  163. Reading this reminded me of what I've read about the pogroms in Eastern Europe, when Jews were robbed, maimed, and killed for sport? out of jealousy?

  164. Thank you for this important article, Mr. Blow. It's a piece of American history that everyone should know, but I'm just learning. Dr. Hooker is an extraordinary woman. To have the strength and tenacity to move forward and accomplish all she did, after the horrors of Tulsa, is inspiring. The photo of your radiant smiles and mutual delight, is beautiful. Unfortunately, the racism in this country isn't going away anytime soon. The present administration fuels the fires daily. It is incumbent upon all of us to try to build bridges between communities and all people. Even a small kindness goes a long way. Restitution is in order for the victims and their families of the Tulsa massacre.

  165. This pogrom resonates for me as a Jew and a human being. One of my earliest memories is watching on TV the Brown vs. Board of Education riots --- the fire hoses and dogs and twisted, faces spitting hatred at kids like me trying to get to school.

    What courage and dignity it took for people in the South to stand up to that vicious, barbaric and lethal hatred and demand their human rights.

    That the detritus of that era is still with us, and that it has been emboldened and validated by the "election" of Trump leaves me sick with despair.

    Evil will never just fade away; it has to be chased away and barred, closely monitored and fought because it is relentless, ageless, shameless, and murderous.

  166. The use of aircraft in the Tulsa carnage may explain a long-standing ambivalence about aviation in the black community, the amazing performance of the Tuskegee Airmen notwithstanding. The number of black airline pilots has gradually risen from one percent to perhaps three percent over the last decades, being far outpaced but the increase in the number of female airline pilots. An African-American professor of mine actually opined that this may have been a factor in Obama's pillorying of corporate jets during the auto industry bailout, which did nothing for an already depressed business aviation. There are many factors for the lack of black pilots, including the high cost of aviation education, but being bombed by white guys in your home town could not have helped.

  167. We shall and we will never accept the collective amnesia regarding the racial crimes in this country.

  168. Again, a historical occurrence they never wrote about in our history books. Spike Lee has a movie here.....

  169. Instead of stoking racial division, Charles Blow should pay more attention to the black-run press, particularly the Atlanta Black Star, which has a much more convincing take on Greenwood's impoverishment based on economic logic:

    "After segregation ended, African-Americans flocked to support businesses owned by whites and other groups, causing Black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, etc. to almost disappear. Today, Black people spend 95 percent of their income at white-owned businesses."

    Integration, though morally unimpeachable, brought small black companies into competition with bigger, better-financed white companies with more highly qualified staff. The result? They were crushed...not by physical violence, but by the marketplace.

    You can read the rest here: https://atlantablackstar.com/2013/12/09/5-ways-integration-underdevelope...

  170. Thank you Mr. Blow. It speaks volumes that I was educated at the best universities in this country and never heard of the Tulsa Race Riot.

  171. You described Olivia Hooker as "glorious." The word is perfect for her -- her dignity, her honesty, her calm -- you brought all of that to us in your essay. She is bearing witness to acts of barbarism, acts of violence, all against a backdrop of white supremacy, a backdrop of growing hatred. We need to hear voices like hers.