97 Years: Looking back at the Tulsa Race Riot

TULSA, Okla. — Thursday marks 97 years since the Tulsa Race Riot.

The Oklahoma Historical Society shared an excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, describing the 18-hour ordeal as the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.

Over the course of May 31 and June 1, 1921 more than 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed.

Estimated deaths range from 50 to 300, and thousands were held under armed guard.

The state's second-largest African American community and the area known as Black Wall Street, burned to the ground.

"One of the great tragedies of Oklahoma history, the Tulsa race riot has lived on as a potent symbol of the ongoing struggle of black and white Oklahomans to forge a common destiny out of an often troubled past," the excerpt read.

Historical accounts say the turmoil began when a young African American man rode an elevator with a white woman. What happened in that elevator remains muddied in various accounts, but it led to 35 city blocks destroyed.

Over the course of nearly 100 years, Tulsa worked to take that turmoil and restore what took it.

As we near the centennial, FOX23's Naomi Keitt took a look at the 1921 Race Riot Centennial Commission, bringing development to north Tulsa.

The ultimate goal? To share with the rest of Tulsa, and the world, the rich legacy that was "Black Wall Street".

From Archer and Greenwood to the Shoppes on Peoria and John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, Sen. Kevin Matthews told FOX23 he hopes by 2021 that the commission captures for Tulsa the history of the past and thriving development.

A year later, he showed FOX23's Tiffany Alaniz his planned Race Riot curriculum to help Oklahoma schools teach about the event and spark economic opportunities in the area.

FOX23's Janna Clark spent more time in the Greenwood District on the edge of downtown Tulsa to see how the city has tried to move forward.

In 2018, one of the last survivors of the riots died at the age of 99. Two known survivors live in Chicago and New York.

#ThisDayInHistory #TulsaRaceRiot An excerpt from “The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture”: Believed to be the...

Posted by Oklahoma Historical Society on Thursday, May 31, 2018