World Book Encyclopedia conspicuously fails to mention the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 in any of its entries; readers won't find it under "Oklahoma", "Tulsa", or "riots" ("Black Wall Street").It did happen, though.For many victims, the Tulsa Race Riot is very much a reality still today.Their lives were forever changed on May 31, 1921.On this day, 19-year-old black man, Dick Rowland, was arrested and accused of trying to rape a white female elevator operator, Sarah Page, in Tulsa's Drexel Building.The local newspaper, the Tulsa Tribune, reporting on the story, inflamed area residents by declaring that Rowland had attacked Page and torn her clothes.On the back page, the Tribune carried an editorial with the headline, "To Lynch Negro Tonight", in which it talked about the fact that "mobs of Whites were forming in order to lynch the Negro" (Carrillo).White men soon began showing up outside the courthouse carrying guns and drinking liquor and demanding that Rowland be handed over.But local African American World War I veterans had weapons of their own, and they came to protect Rowland.After a single gun fired inadvertently, riot ensued.Thousands of Whites raided the 35-square block Greenwood district of Tulsa, looting and destroying over 1200 homes, 35 grocery stores, eight doctors' offices, and five hotels.Different accounts estimate the number of lives lost anywhere between 300 and 3000, with property damages estimating $1.8 million in 1921- a sum that would amount to over $16 million today (Carrillo).
The Tulsa Race Riot was many things.It was Yellow Journalism at its worst.It was mob mentality at its strongest.And it was the reaction of a jealous white population to the extremely affluent "Black Wall Street", as it was called.Was it "terrorism", though?That is an issue of literary particularities and little else…