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January 16, 2020 46 mins

In reality, the Tulsa "race riots" of 1921 was more like a massacre. Yet it was almost lost to history until 1997, and still not widely known outside of Oklahoma until HBO's The Watchmen put it on the cultural map. Learn all about this dark chapter in American history today. 

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff You should know a production of My
Heart Radios How Stuff Works. Hey, and welcome to the podcast.
I'm Josh Clark. There's Charles w Chuck Bryan over there,
there's Jerry over here. We have all come together in
the year where our silver jumpsuits as always I know, right,

(00:26):
and talk about a buried, overlooked blemish in the history
of the United States. Are we not gonna recount know
anything about this past year? Talk about this being the
first recording of the new year. All right, we've had

(00:47):
a break here, I said, I'm gonna push forward. We've
been off for a couple of weeks, which was pretty
glorious to not have to just over text my brain.
But it is also nice to get back in here
to the stank of this room. This room, I don't
think this room stinks well right now. It smells like

(01:08):
you're caramel vanilla frappe lape. This is just black coffee.
This happens to be flavor. It's really I mean, it
smells great. It's I think a green mountain or something.
Caramel vanilla coffee pot. Man, it is super fragrant. It's
nice in a great way. It makes me. It smells

(01:29):
like an ice cream Sunday. It's pleasant, it is very pleasant,
but it's not doing the job. Like I'm still I'm
a little tired, a little groggy. You know, I had
a four shot latte earlier, and so I'm kind of gotcha.
Maybe that's what I mean. I'm zippy and go downstairs
to I know you don't like to pay for coffee,
but go downstairs to Spiller Park Hugh Atchison's place a

(01:53):
four shot latte. Yes, okay, that has me going. Well,
I give it about a half hour before Chuck crashes everybody. Yeah, seriously, anyway,
I'm glad to be back. Well, I'm glad you're back
to You know, we've been here the whole time. This
is where you spent Christmas and New Year's Yes, both

(02:13):
in this room and Thanksgiving, and I guess you, me
and Momo slept over there in the corner. They come
to visit sometimes they say, please, please come on, please
stop working. I say, I can't. They slide the food
trade through the slot. Um you know where I got
this idea, And I know you haven't watched it, but
the Watchmen I came across mention of that. I was like,

(02:35):
why is everybody talking about the Watchman with the Tulsa
race riot, or more appropriately, why is everyone all of
a sudden talking about the Tulsa massacre? Yeah? Yeah, because
the Watchman really put it on the map in a
big way. Uh, utilize it quite well in the storyline.
And I have a recommendation for everyone, even though it

(02:56):
is a marketing piece. There's a thing in the Atlantic
called the Massacre of Black Wall Street, paid for by HBO,
but it's a It tells the story in comic book
form in the Atlantic, and I didn't notice it was
a marketing piece until afterward. But well, it's still good, sure,
as long as the contents good. Yeah, it's cool and

(03:17):
very well done. So um, this is like, it's great
that The Watchman has brought attention to this because it
wasn't until about two thousand one, maybe the late nineties
really that people started talking about this and this this
event that we're going to talk about happened in and

(03:39):
almost the week after, basically the week after, everyone said,
don't talk about this, just forget it ever happened. We
was moving forward and we're going to bury the past,
literally buried people, the evidence, all this stuff that was
buried and people just acted like nothing happened in Tulsa,
Oklahoma for eighty years. And when you hear what we're

(04:01):
about to talk about, it's astounding that the community, both
black and white, agreed to just basically pretend this never happened,
at least publicly civically. Yeah, and um, it's hard to
find some of some information still on some of the
key events, and definitely some of the key players because

(04:22):
a lot of them died of old age without ever
having been interviewed. Yeah, no follow ups, Like I mean,
we'll get to it, but a couple of the most
key players is like, this is kind of all we know, right.
I looked them up to and it's like, what do
you mean you have no idea even who this this
guy was? Let alone? You know what became of him
or what? What do you mean? Like you just no

(04:43):
one kept track. But that's how complete and total this
cover up was. It was a cover up. So let's
talk about it. First. Let's talk about Greenwood, which I
was not familiar with. But Greenwood was a an affluent,
I guess almost suburb adjacent to Tulsa, just north of Tulsa.
And what was odd about the fact that it was

(05:05):
a fluent is that it was an all black community
in you know, the turn of the last century, and
yet it was one of the most affluent communities in
the entire United States. Yeah. I mean, now it's just
part of Tulsa like a neighborhood. But back then just
sort of like my neighborhood would have been a suburb
of Atlanta in the nineteen twenties, even though I'm you know,

(05:26):
five miles from downtown exactly. But in ninety one, it was,
like you said, super affluent. They had a lot of
I think there were ten thousand black residents there. It's
called the Black Wall Street like I mentioned, and six
hundred businesses. There were fifteen African American millionaires living in

(05:48):
this district. Yeah, fifteen black millionaires in nine in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Yeah.
And it and it wasn't I mean, like the whole
area was very well to do. There was like indoor plumbing,
the public schools there were like top notch, and in
many cases Greenwood had a lot to boast about that,
Like the white areas in Tulsa just over the railroad

(06:11):
tracks literally on the other side of the tracks. Um,
didn't have like that, Like, this is far better off
than some parts of white Tulsa. Yeah, including uh, one
of the top African American surgeons, if not the top
in the country, endorsed by the Doctor Mayo himself, the
Mayo Brothers. Yeah, this guy's Dr. A. C. Jackson, and

(06:34):
he was one of the people murdered in this massacre. Yeah. Yeah,
I was gonna say there was a spoiler, but I
guess we've already kind of mentioned there's a massacre coming, right, Yeah, So, um,
just to take a step back even further. So it's
pretty impressive to think of, like, this is the Jim
Crow era United States. This is we're talking about, you know,

(06:56):
the this massacre took place in that's you know, fifty
years after the end of the Civil War UM. And
in many ways the Jim Crow era was just as
bad as the Antebellum slavery era. But so the idea
to us today looking back at this time of well,
there's a black community um in Oklahoma that was one

(07:19):
of the most affluent areas in the country. It's kind
of mind boggling. But if you dig even deeper into
how it was formed, almost you developed like a sense
of pride in this that these these these people came
together under these conditions and not only like survived, but
like thrived and created a carved out a place for

(07:39):
themselves where like being black was celebrated and where you
could be proud and you took pride in your home,
in your children and your children's education and the health
care that they were getting, in the bus service, and
the quality of the theater that you went to, um,
the confectionery, the soda fountain, like that's where you went
to go, like proposed marriage. Like it was just incredibly

(08:01):
developed community. And the one of the ways that it
was that it was able to flourish and was able
to kind of grow like this is because the first
thing that that Oklahoma did when it became a state.
Remember it was originally a territory for forced relocation of
Native Americans and their African slaves to this area. Um.

(08:24):
When it became a state, when the white settlers came
in and said, no, we want this instead, we're gonna
take this territory we gave you away and turn into state.
The first piece of legislation they passed was that um,
black people have to stay in their own area. They
can't marry outside their race, they can't frequent white owned businesses,

(08:44):
they have to stay over here. And so the people
agree would say, fine with us. We're going to pass
a covenant that says you have to be a black
person to own land here, or to even rent a
place here, to own a business here. There's a it's
a covenant restricted community. And we're gonna take a tremendous
amount of pride and in circulating our currency, our hard

(09:06):
earned money that we're making by working for these white
businesses that we're not allowed to patronize. We're gonna go
make our own businesses over here, and we're going to
support them with our with our community, not only because
we can't spend our money elsewhere, but because we have
a lot of pride in the businesses that we've built
over here. And so in this way, Greenwood flourished because

(09:27):
of and in spite of these Jim Crow era laws
that that black people had to deal with in Oklahoma
at the time. Yeah, and this was Dave Rouse helped
put us together, put this together, and some of the
research he got was from the book The Burning Colon
Massacre destruction and the Tulsa race ride of by Tim Madigan,

(09:49):
uh and very astutely points out that this was this
happened in Oklahoma, of course, but this kind of thing
was happening all over the country. Um, not just in
the South or the what you called Oklahoma. I guess
the West Moodwest, Yeah, but not Midwest. I don't know.
I think we just call it Oklahoma. It's interesting some
people there identify with the South, but if you're from Georgia,

(10:10):
Oklahoma might as well be you know, Montana. I think
of Oklahoma is like Native America. Yeah. And then what
it says on the license plate, maybe it says the
middle of the country with oh, with a little apostar
and there's a picture of the Mountain Doolo going. But um,
this was happening everywhere. There were In nineteen nineteen, there

(10:33):
were two dozen race riots, um in places like Chicago, Washington,
d C. St. Louis. Uh. In between the end of
the Civil War and World War Two, there were more
than four thousand lynchings in the United States, which is uh,
you know, it's important to point that out because what
and we'll get into the story here, but a lynching

(10:55):
is what was the aim of the white people of
Oklahoma on this night. Right, but I have seen also
one of the reasons why I went to so much
um lengths to explain Greenwood and part was too because
to show what was lost here, but also to show
um there's there are a lot of people who consider

(11:17):
this massacre to have been carried out or fueled in
part by envy, because the people of Greena were so
much better off in some instances than the white people
who were carrying out this massacre. All right, maybe we
should take a break, No, and then we'll come back. Man,
we gotta start with an argument over a break. Yeah,

(11:38):
let's do it, all right, let's take a break. We'll
come back and talk a little bit about the beginnings
of what would end up being the Tulsa massacre. All right,

(12:08):
So we should talk about the key player here, or players,
And in this case it is Diamond Dick Rowland, one
of the greatest names I've ever heard in my life.
It's pretty good. He was a shoeshine boy in Tulsa,
and by all accounts, he was smart, and he was
a handsome young guy, and he was uh sort of

(12:31):
a man about town. He was popular with the ladies,
had the world on a string. Yeah, pretty much. And uh,
there was a girl named Sarah Page who ran an
elevator at the Drexel Building, a building that I have
walked past with my own two feet. Oh wow. Right,
and she was white. She was white, and uh, you know,
Dick thought she was cute and he would go down

(12:52):
there and basically kind of make up excuses to ride
her elevator. Okay, I saw something different than that. Oh yeah,
I saw that he was on the elevator because he
was he could use the segregated bathroom on the top
floor of the Drugtle building only, so he had to
ride up the elevator up and down to get to

(13:13):
the bathroom, the closest bathroom for him to be able
to use. That's what I saw. So you're saying he
didn't fancy Sarah Page, I don't know. I don't know.
But I also saw a different explanation for why he
would have been on the elevator as often as he
supposedly was. All right, maybe it was both. Yeah, maybe
he went to the bathroom a little more often than
he had to because they did think Sarah Paget who knows.
I'm not saying they necessarily contradict each other. I'm just

(13:34):
saying I've seen other explanations as well that I said,
that's not a very loyally for some reason, didn't it. Man?
Maybe this is uh the new Yu Matlock. Josh Clark
esquire a spree that's different than esquire. So at any rate,
we should probably also point out that, um, and you know,

(13:56):
mixed race couples still get sideways looks in some parts
of America today, but certainly in nineteen twenty one and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Uh,
the idea of a black man fancying a white woman,
he was even looking at a white woman. Yeah, it
was not only um untoward, but like a threat worthy
of a lynching. Right. It was still that time in

(14:17):
America where, um, if you made any advances, that was
sort of the biggest fear for some white men was
black men coming in and taking quote unquote their women. Yeah, um,
which was character popularized thanks to Birth of a Nation,
which depicts the clan you know, coming to the aid
of white women who were about to be raped by

(14:38):
maniacal black men who just couldn't couldn't help themselves. They
were just so uh in love with white women. That
they just had to ripe. That was just what black
guys did. That was the view of black guys at
the time, right, that that's just how it was so
to white people. Um, you like you you kept an
eye out for that, Like when you saw a black

(14:58):
man and there's a white woman over there, you want
to make sure that he wasn't going to you know. Yeah,
that was the mentality that people were walking around with
back then. Yeah, that movie was actually partially shot in
my old neighborhood in l A. You have a lot
to do with this episode. Well, it's just weird to
think about Birth of a Nation, uh, you know being
shot in Los Felis, which is this very like kind

(15:20):
of hip community and on the east side of Hollywood.
But anyway, on May uh, Dick Roland went into that
elevator to either flirt or use the restroom or both.
And what I saw was that the it was well
known that the third floor um landing did not land

(15:41):
flush with the threshold, and supposedly this is why, as
the story goes, Dick Roland tripped when he was getting
onto the elevator. So maybe if that bathroom was on
the third floor, that could make sense. I heard top floor.
I don't know how many floors, I don't remember. Actually
it was it more than I don't know, I don't remember. Actually,

(16:02):
I just I don't think they call a building this
something building if it only has three floors, you know
what I mean, you're probably right, that's like an eight
plus floor like Moniker. I think you're probably right. But
at any rate, he gets on the elevator. As the
story goes, Uh stumbles getting on and kind of falls
forward and grabs her arm, which was kind of the

(16:24):
first thing that he could get a hold of to
keep from falling. As the story goes, she started beating
him over the head with her purse because I guess
it's an old Looney Tunes cartoon, and she didn't have
a rolling pin. And the elevator opened. On the ground floor.
People see this sort of scuffle going on, or what
appears to be a scuffle. She allegedly cries out that

(16:47):
she had been assaulted, and people on the first floor
called the police as Dick flees on foot. Yeah, and
you know, no one knows exactly how this went down.
No one even knows exactly who Diamond Dick Roland was
or Sarah page for that matter always are. Yeah, all
we found out what was that she was an orphan.

(17:11):
She could have been a younger sixteen. I've seen reports
of seventeen and was working to pay her way through
business college. And that's what the Tulsa Tribune reported like
the day after. Yeah, and I saw that elsewhere. But
I also saw like literally nothing else about her. I
couldn't find anything. And then Dick Roland, they think that
he might have possibly been named Jimmy Jones. I saw

(17:33):
that too, and who was raised by his grandparents whose
last name was Roland, so he took their name. And
there is a guy who would have matched his birthdate
named Jimmy Jones that they found buried in Tulsa, but
he died like two months before these events took place,
so it couldn't have possibly been him. Yeah, there were
a few years apart two I think, right, Yeah, but

(17:54):
it's unbelievable that so much that this is lost to history. Yeah,
these two people who set the off this one of
the one of the most despicable events that has ever
taken place in this country's history, just vanish almost after
this point. It's just you guys played your role. Now
everyone else is going to step in. So Dick goes home, Um,
his mom, he I guess. He tells his mom what happened,

(18:17):
and she obviously was pretty scared right away because she
knew probably what this meant. But for that night, at least,
nothing really happened. Um. The next day he goes out
to meet up with some friends and the Tulsa police
pull up and, uh take him in basically on an
assault charge, right, which is I don't know why they

(18:39):
didn't go pick him up at home or whatever, but
they also read somewhere that they had arrested him on
the spot. But the what you're you're recounting matches what
I've seen mostwhere, right, Yeah, But that's that's history, especially
suppressed history. Right. One person writes, and then somebody else reports,
and then enough people reported, and then that's fact exactly,
that's the story. But so either way he came into

(19:03):
police custody, we know that is the way it is.
And then this is like a white sheriff named William Sullivan,
I think, right, William McCullough. McCullough I was very close. Yeah,
And when you're starting to read the story, you hear
about this, you know, white mustache sheriff and immediately think,
oh boy, this guy's in trouble. Well, this guy had

(19:23):
replaced the last guy that he was trouble. Right, who
would allowed um, a white mob to take uh an
arrested black man out of his custody and lynch him.
Oh it says here was a white person. Is that
not true? I think that's wrong. Okay, either way, he
let somebody be lynched by an angry mob. Yeah, which

(19:44):
I thought for sure Sheriff McCullough was going to do.
But apparently McCullough was intent on kind of going by
the book. He followed the Hectate school of sheriff ing,
how don't you know what that from from to kill
a mockingbird? Oh right, right, which was, hey, let's let
the all play out, let's give him a stay in court.
There will be no lynchings on my watch. So he

(20:06):
took um. He took Diamond Dick up to a room
on the upper floor. The only way to get there
was this one staircase. So he basically strategically hit him out,
went down to this white crowd and said, there's not
going to be any lynching today. Like Chuck said, the
thing is we've left out a really important point here. Yeah,
like why was there a white crowd to begin with?

(20:28):
There is a newspaper that was called the Tulsa Tribune
that um ran an article about Sarah Page being assaulted.
This is a news article, and the headline for said
news article was nabbed negro for attacking girl and elevator.
Not people might nab negro for attacking girl and elevator

(20:53):
police worried white mob might not. It's nabbed like go
do this. That was the headline for the article. Editorial
took it even a step further. And this is the
day after this event took place. Yeah, the editorial was
to lynch Negro tonight. And I gotta say, whoever is

(21:14):
writing these headlines, it's inflammatory, of course, but they also
don't make much sense. The poor construction. They're very poor construction.
And I went to try and find the micro film
of this, and um, I think the first one is available,
but blurry the second one. The only copy of that
paper they have is a front page with an article

(21:37):
cut out that scanned in and everyone's like, it must
this must have been that editorial, But I literally couldn't
find any you know, because I was kind of curious
to read just how poor of a writer this person
was and get you know, probably what would not have
been accurate details. No, no, so no they I mean
they basically reported in the first one, in the actual article, um,

(22:01):
that her her her clothes have been torn at they
been They really characterize it like he attacked her assault
right exactly. Um. And then the second one is just
basically like an all out editorial calling for Dick Rowland's lynching.
This is in the paper so that the local newspaper
has inflamed them, the white citizenry, into basically calling them

(22:25):
to action, to go do something about this. And they
all show up at the courthouse, um to to demand
that Sheriff McCullough hand over Dick Roland to them so
they can go lynch him. And he says no, back off, no,
But so before but I think he tells them like, no,
I'm not I'm not doing that like you said. But um,

(22:47):
before the crowd disperses, a second group comes and it's
actually a group of World War One veterans from Greenwood
who had found out that that that this white mob
was going to lynch Dick Roland. And they were like, no, no,
they're not. We're going to go see to it that
doesn't happen. Yeah. I mean, there were hundreds of w
W one veterans, black veterans in Greenwood. UM. They were

(23:11):
people who fought for this country. And it's sort of
that familiar despicable story, shed blood on European soil, come
back home to America, and you're still a second class citizen.
They had petition to UH and this is just sort
of a sidebar. They had petitioned to UH walk in
the Memorial Day parade UH for many years and we're

(23:31):
always refused. And was Memorial Day and that that same
year they had once again said can we participate in
the Memorial Day Parade as veterans And they say no,
we're only going to honor the white veterans. Now, I
think they wanted to be integrated in the parade with
the white veterans, just as World War One veterans marching together.
And they said, no, whites only, you can march by yourself.

(23:53):
And when they did march, they were taunted and jeered
at by the people who are watching the parade. So
these to the people that got guns and came down
there and said not on our watch. We're not gonna
let this happen. Uh. And it kind of plays out
as a film, you know, from the sounds of it
is like these cars pull in and part the crowd,
and uh, these black veterans get out with their guns

(24:16):
and then they're like, no, you're not taking this this kid,
this is not going to happen, right. So, um, apparently
Sheriff McCullough I was able to convince the Greenwood World
War One veterans who showed up that he wasn't going
to hand over dick roll and that he's going to
protect the Droll and they should probably just go He's

(24:38):
gonna get rid of this white crowd too, but don't worry.
I'm not like the old sheriff. And um, it's about
seventy five armed men. Yeah, and I drive at home, like,
how many people I read that there were? I saw
thousands somewhere of white people of white people at the courthouse,
Like it was just this calling for a lynching. Yeah,
it was that was they were heavily outmanned. Yeah, Um,

(25:00):
but but seventy five, the seventy five black veterans showed
up in the midst of this. Let's even say it's
just a thousand. Let's even say it's like five hundred
people calling for a lynching and your seventy five black
men showing up arms saying like, no, it's not happening.
Just pretty courageous stuff. Right, So, before before they can leave,
or as they're leaving, it's actually not clear what what

(25:25):
this event's name gets its name from happens what you
would call a race riot. Yeah, I mean, it looked
like it might have been on the way to being
a a scene that the sheriff managed successfully. They might
have been on the way out that white crowd might
have dispersed if not for this one incident. And even

(25:46):
even if we did know, you know, just beat by beat,
the history of this, you still wouldn't be able to
say what would have happened. But that is a possible outcome.
There was a there was a an older white man
who demand did that one of these black veterans give
him his gun, And the black veterans said no, I'm
not gonna do that, and the old white man went

(26:07):
to go grab it, and the gun went off and
both sides just started shooting at one another. Yeah, that's
what triggered it. Uh. It was chaos. That was a
hail of bullets. Uh. People of on both sides just
started you know, dropping dead from uh from the bullets flying,
and it became a full on war scene basically for

(26:29):
the next couple of days. Right. Okay, So at that point, um,
the black veterans are like, we really should get out
of here. They leave toward Greenwood, toward Greenwood, which is
their home. They're going back to their homes. Um, and
along the way, some of them like kind of dropped
back in like steak out positions and start sniping at

(26:52):
the white rioters who are coming after them. And at
that point, um, they they go further back into Greenwood.
And by this time, it's like the early morning hours
of I believe June one, right, Uh, I don't think
it was the early morning at that point, it was
like midnight. I mean like midnight one something like that. Yeah. Yeah,

(27:14):
it's during the nighttime. And this is when the white
people started breaking into the hardware stores and looting businesses
to get weapons. Yeah. Because here's the thing, So that
Sheriff McCullough, who you're kind of like, Okay, as far
as like this whole story goes, that's not so bad,
like he he at least tried. Now, the moment this
race riot happened and the black veterans took off back

(27:36):
for Greenwood, he started deputizing white rioters, handing out guns
and ammunition and basically saying, go get them, Go get
those guys. And rather than saying like this is not
your job, is my responsibility? All go home, I'm going
to go handle this, he enlisted the help of these
people who were involved in this riot on the white side,

(27:58):
and at that point any semblance of what you would
call a race riot ended and what became of um
revenge massacre uh just started. So so people call this
the Tulsa race riot, and I think maybe a tenth
of it qualifies as a race riot, and the rest

(28:19):
it just should be called the Tulsa massacre. Yeah. So
what happens is, like you said, some of these veterans
get staked out in strategic positions, um, on rooftops and
behind houses, behind cars. Uh. The the white army, for
lack of a better word, is advancing into Greenwood. They
start setting fires at these strategic locations to flush out

(28:41):
these snipers and then they just start burning everything, basically
setting fire to every house in every business to burn
down Greenwood. Well. I think also about for about the
five or about four or five hours from the time
where they managed to flush the snipers out until about
five i've in the morning, they were quietly taking up

(29:03):
positions inside Greenwood and then a whistle blew at about
five am and all of them just came out from
their positions and then they just went preserved. It was
a charge like military coordinated assault on Greenwood. And so
this assault involved driving people out of their homes at gunpoint.

(29:23):
Any resistance that people were shot on site. Apparently there
were people who were shot who weren't offering resistance. Um.
There was a story about an elderly couple who were
kneeling in their house praying and they were both executed
by these white mobsters um in their home. People were
burned alive. Houses and people doussed with kerosene and burned alive.

(29:44):
It was another story of a a blind beggar who
was tied to a car and dragged through the streets.
I mean, it was it was just bedlam. And Watchman
actually gets pretty graphic and how they depict this even
though it's an alternate history show, just like the movie
in the in the graphic novel where they I think
they did pretty decent justice. They didn't follow the origin

(30:07):
story of how it started, but it just placed heavily
into the plot line. Yeah, yeah, should we take another break?
All right, let's take another break and we'll tell you
what happened from here. Okay, So we actually took a

(30:42):
commercial break in the midst of a massacre. So the
thing is like people are being driven out of their
houses and shot in some cases, but more often than not,
they're being like just flushed out. But no house, no building,
no business, nothing was spirit. They're in the intent of

(31:03):
these um, these white terrorists, there's really no other name
for him, was to burn down Greenwood, and the firefighters
were kept at bay. Yeah, they said do not come
in here, like the rioters will kill you. Do you
just stay away. They burned Greenwood to the ground. Thirty
five blocks. Thirty five blocks. Do you know how many

(31:25):
blocks that is? Think about how many blocks is thirty
five blocks? And then add like ten, because I guarantee
your conception is less than actually thirty five blocks. There
is a lot of blocks of buildings burned to the ground.
People killed in their front yards, including Dr Andrew C. Jackson,
the famous surgeon, shot like a dog in his own

(31:46):
front yard. In the chest there's a picture of him. Homes, uh, churches, schools, hospital, library.
I think I mentioned there were six hundred businesses total.
They were all torched, just torched. There were six people
who owned airplanes, they were that wealthy in Greenwood. The
airplanes were stolen by the rioters and used to drop bombs, dynamite,

(32:08):
nitro glycerin fire. And then there was also accusations the
National Guard was helping coordinate this too. Yeah, the National
Guard was called in uh and when they got there,
by all accounts, they did not to try to help
quell the riot. They more acted as helping to arrest
black men. Um, that's just historical fact. Oh yeah, they were.

(32:30):
They were bringing in I mean, they were killing people
for sure, but they were also arresting black men. The
women and children fled, uh. I think six thousand people
were arrested, and the women and children fled toward the woods,
basically like leaving behind everything they owned. Who are homeless.
There was there was ten thousand people who lived in
Greenwood at the time, and after this one night, this

(32:53):
orgy of like violence there, um, there were like nine
thousand left homeless and hundreds dead. Yeah, And apparently back
to the National Guard, they said that they brought in
planes just to spot fires and coordinate ground security, but
there are reports from people there that said that they

(33:14):
were actually shooting at people on the ground. Say that
that's yeah. Even setting that aside, the National Guard didn't
come in and quell anything. They just started arresting and
detaining the victims of this massacre. That was the role
that they played in this in this situation, that's right. So, uh,
the whole thing culminates with um. I mean, in the end,

(33:36):
it's really hard to get the amount of people killed.
I think the official reports as thirty five black people.
It's certainly way more than that. I've seen all the
way up to three hundred. That's that's what I saw,
is almost across the boards. Three hundred. Yeah. That again
might be one of those things that everyone just sort
of settled on a on a number, But it was
not thirty five people, to be sure, No, definitely not.

(33:59):
And so like as the sun comes up the day
after I think June one, um, Greenwood burn to the ground.
There's people hiding in the woods. Thousands and thousands of
former affluent residents of this black community are now homeless. Well, no,
they're not homeless because the National Guards very kindly put

(34:19):
them in detention centers at the fair grounds. That doesn't
qualify as at home, right, That's my point is that
it's not at home. Right. They're kept detained at the
fair grounds for months. I saw that in some cases
most of them had to um endure the winter. This
happened in May. These people were still a lot of

(34:40):
them kept in detention camps at the fair grounds through
the winter. Tulsa winners and summers are both tough. They
were kept in detention camps because white rioters burned their
town to the ground. Yeah, and this was in June,
so right, so right, so um, yeah, it was June.
I guess it was the end of May. So. Um.
The way that you got out of these detention and

(35:00):
centers was your white employer came and vouched for you,
and so this person works for me. I need him back, Yeah,
please let him go. That's how you got out. Yeah.
So in the aftermath, no one was arrested there were
no prosecutions. No, no, I'm sorry, Chuck. There was a
grand jury that was sat you convened. They inundated twenty people.
All of them were black. Well, now we're white. Yeah,

(35:21):
that's I meant on the white side. Uh. There were
in today's dollars between fifty and a hundred million dollars
worth of damage. Um, everywhere I look, said, the only
organization that really helped, and they really helped was the
American Red Cross. Uh, super brave and did a whole lot.
And I also saw where um, you know, it wasn't

(35:41):
the entire city of Tulsa. Apparently there were some white
communities that reached out in the aftermath, of course, to
help with the recovery efforts to take people in. Um.
So we don't want to paint the entire town uh
as doing the wrong thing. Apparently some people did step up. Sure,
I mean, just nothing is that literally black and white? Yeah,
you know, like there's always shades of gray in that situation,

(36:04):
in any situation. Yeah, but Greenwood UH came back. They
It's probably not a surprise, but the insurance companies had
classified very quickly as a riot instead of just a
violent massacre. Because that means they wouldn't have to compensate
people for their homes being in businesses being burned to
the ground, right because if they were rioting, then they

(36:25):
were culpable for that damage. And insurance company just despicable. Yea,
so also despicable. The County Commission said, no, we're not
accepting any outside donations, will take care of our own,
and then didn't didn't follow through on that at all.
So there were no funds paid to the Greenwood people,
and people were trying to right as reparations or to

(36:47):
even help them rebuild um and the County Commission, I guess,
proposed at one point that they would handle this by
buying the land for like a fraction of its market
value and then auctioning it off to the highest bidder.
That was one proposed. And they also said, well, you
know what, just to make sure that this doesn't happen again,
we're going to establish a new building code for Greenwood.

(37:09):
No building can be rebuilt unless it's built with fireproof bricks.
And then they went to the fireproof brick producers and said,
do not sell any materials to the black people of Greenwood.
So despite this, they managed to rebuild in about five years. Astoundingly,
the people whose houses in town was burned to the

(37:30):
ground came back and rebuilt. And from just about everything
I read, Greenwood was actually better, more prosperous, and more
affluent from the second time around than it was even
the first, and it was pretty affluent the first time.
And Chuck, we said, like hundreds of people were killed, right,
so get this. Funerals were forbidden, like you weren't allowed

(37:53):
to have a funeral. That's how how how covered up
this thing became. And one of the reasons we will
never know how many people were killed is because the
people who were killed were taken off and dumped in
the river or stashed in coal mines or buried in
mass unmarked graves. Well, they think they found two of those, uh,

(38:15):
like a month ago. Yeah, there are archaeologists and Tulsa
And this was from Time magazine, from Jasmine Aguilera. They
have identified two sites that they thought were that they
think now were mass graves. And they've been looking since
I think two thousand one because they knew people, you know,
there were reports of mass graves, and so archaeologists have

(38:37):
been looking and in two thousand eighteen, Um, they started
like a legit investigation. Uh, and they think that they
have found one at least one, maybe two of these sites,
but even which is in a cemetery. Ironically, Yeah, I
saw that. But even this whole thing is like fairly knew.
It wasn't like until the late nineties that people even

(38:57):
started talking about this, right. Yeah. Nineteen nine seven was
when the state of Oklahoma introduced a bill. And this
was after just not talking about it in the black community.
They would talk about it in stories and whispers. The
white community just buried it and the state of Oklahoma
just didn't acknowledge it. Yeah. The last thing I saw

(39:18):
about it was the Tulsa Tribune ran another editorial on
like June fourth, a few days after basically saying like
thank you know, they said thank you to the police
and all the white citizens who cleaned up Tulsa by
getting rid of greenwood. It was it's actually way worse
than what I just depicted, but I couldn't possibly bring
myself to to read it verbatim. It's just vile what

(39:42):
it says. It's really bad. But in ninety seven is
when they introduced a bill for reparations and creation of
the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, and that report was released
in two thousand one, and it did hold police in
public officials to blame. Um it, it it didn't do anything. Basically,
there were no reparations. As for Dick Rowland, the case

(40:06):
was the actual case, remember the case of the assault
that was dismissed in September. Apparently Sarah Page didn't want
to press forward with charges and she's lost the time.
He supposedly immediately moved to Kansas City maybe and no
one else really knows anything else about him. That's just
so surprising. Yeah, you know, and if not for the

(40:28):
Watchman coming out, this might still be a fairly buried
story outside of Oklahoma. It's really brought a lot of
attention to it. Yeah, and good for them for doing that. Yeah.
Um So. One of the things that I saw about
Greenwood itself was that it kept prospering and flourishing for
decades after this, until about the sixties. And um one
of the reasons I saw that explained why not just Greenwood,

(40:51):
but a lot of black areas started to decline in
the sixties was a byproduct of integration. Was that you
could as a black person in America spend your black
dollar at a white owned business now and like they don't.
They didn't teach us that in public school. Like this
is a byproduct of it. But as a result, these

(41:11):
these um black owned businesses started to decline more and
more and more UM and so Greenwood wasn't as prosperous
as it was before. But the death blow, the death
blow is that remember in our Interstates episode where in
a lot of the UM poorer areas, a lot of
the UM areas of color, that that's where they built
the highways. They built right through Greenwood. Tell us an

(41:36):
interesting place. It's spent a few weeks there a few
years ago, and it's, Uh, it's interesting because it's got
this old oil money neighborhoods, some of the most like
amazing estates and houses I've ever seen. It's got some
very poor communities. Uh, a lot of meth problems. It's

(41:58):
an interesting place. It sounds like, yeah, well that's a
Tulsa for you. And you know what, I spent a
few weeks there in this neighborhood and I didn't know
anything about it. I didn't Maybe there is a memorial
or something, but I didn't notice it. I'm not saying
there isn't one, but I didn't see it. So you know,
um Desmond too too sure who helped bring about, um,

(42:19):
just the changeover from apartheid to reconciliation. He came have
a big fan. He came to uh to Tulsa basically said,
you guys are sitting on a power keg here like
this not very long ago. I think we were in
the nineties, maybe even in the two thousand's, just basically
saying like you can't how could you possibly heal when

(42:40):
you still have bodies in onmarked graves and like no
one's talking about this still. I believe there is a
park that they found, like a reconciliation park or something
like that, but it sounds like there's still ways to go.
It wouldn't be ironic that it was Watchman that basically
is forcing this issue to be discussed. Pretty ironic, yea.
The Hour of comic books, well not even TV, I

(43:02):
guess of graphic novels. Yes, So if you want to
know more about the Tulsa massacre also known as the
Tulsa Race Riot of there's a lot for you to
go read, thankfully, and you should, uh just type that
into your favorite search bar. Since I said that it's
time for listener mail. Hey guys, this email is mostly

(43:24):
for Chuck. I need to get something off my chest
and clear some things up about my involvement with your
pronunciation of Carrie whole wise Elvis Elvis. Sometime over the summer,
I made a comment in the corrections corner thread of
movie Crush on the Facebook page where you were pronouncing
Carrie l wise l wise, I posted, I had read
on a redd at a m A his name sounds

(43:44):
like Elvis, But what I meant to say was it
rhymes with Elvis. Is that why you said Carrie Elvis? Like? Um, yeah,
it's because of eli uh. He says this. When I
finally heard my name pop up in the podcast, I
was thrilled and couldn't to hear your reaction. Not only
did my comment get understandably misunderstood, but I've heard you

(44:05):
referenced the comment two or three times now and continue
to correct yourself saying Elvis, most recently on the Andre
the Giant Live episode. Parenthetical Josh said it right, I
try to issue another I tried to issue another comment
immediately afterwards to clear the air, but it was too late.
You discontinued corrections corner I did. I was gonna do

(44:26):
that on movie crushing. It just became like you said
this wrong and your inflection and I was, like you
said Kubrick was great. He was very great. Yeah, I
was a minute as like movie corrections, but you know
how it goes. So I just said, no more of this. Um,
you don't understand how something like this, uh, something as
small has been tearing me apart inside every time I
hear you reference it. There's one thing worse than giving

(44:47):
someone bad information is having them proliferate that information out
in the world, in this case to millions of well
not millions of people, chillions. I just want to apologize
officially for correcting you on something so silly and a
a way you want to say. The name is fined
by me as long as it's what do you say?
L Elis Ellis? I think Ellis. Thanks for the day.

(45:07):
No now, Eli's kind in my head too. Thanks for
the decade of great content. I'll see you both in
January and Seattle for my third live show, All the
Best Eli. It's Eli's third live show birthday, and I
think it's pronounced Eli. Oh, it could be Ellie could be. Yeah,
we're just gonna go with Eli, though I think Elias
E L L I E. It could be. I think

(45:30):
Ellie Golding is something different than that, isn't it. I
don't know who is that? Or does she pronounce her
name Eli? I don't know who that is? You do too,
you've heard her pop songs before when you're working out, okay, uh.
If you want to get in touch with this, like
Eli did uh to let us know we're saying something
wrong because of you, well, you can get in touch
of this by going on to stuff you Should Know

(45:52):
dot com and you can also send us an email
send it off to stuff podcast and i heeart radio
dot com. Stuff you Should Know is a production of
iHeart Radio's How Stuff Works. For more podcasts for my
heart Radio, visit the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or
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