1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: 107-year-old survivor still hears ‘the screams’

This is an opinion cartoon.

We have some catching up to do on Black American history. Too much uncomfortable pain has been swept under the rug. June 1 was a significant anniversary of one of the most shameful days in American history: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

An angry white mob, organized and deputized by local government officials, destroyed a generation of Black wealth and affluence - $2.7 million in 1921 money - killing over 300 men, women and children and leaving over 10,000 homeless in the process. To this day, no one has ever been held accountable. They got away with murder.

100 years later, 107-year-old survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Viola Fletcher, is still trying to break its curse.

 

Excerpt from the History.com story:

In May 2021, 107-year-old Viola Fletcher testified before Congress about the events of May 31, 1921: “I went to bed in my family’s home in Greenwood,” she recounted. “The neighborhood I fell asleep in that night was rich, not just in terms of wealth, but in culture…and heritage. My family had a beautiful home. We had great neighbors. I had friends to play with. I felt safe. I had everything a child could need. I had a bright future.”

 

Then, she said, came the rampage, still vivid in her mind 100 years later: “I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams.”

From the Lunch Break Live interview: “When was the first time airplanes were used to terrorize Americans on American soil? Pearl Harbor? 9/11? Nope.

“Tulsa, 1921. Local government organized a terrorist attack on its own Black American citizens.” - Rev. Dr. Robert Turner

 

JD Crowe is the cartoonist for Alabama Media Group and AL.com and 2020 RFK Human Rights Award winner for Editorial Cartoons.

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