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Black Wall Street


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 After World War I, Tulsa gained fame across the country for the wealthy African American neighborhood known as the Greenwood District. "Black Wall Street" was the name given to this bustling neighborhood and the community it encircled. Unfortunately, an incident involving African American shoe shiner Dick Rowland and white elevator operator Sarah Page would set the stage for catastrophe.

According to, "While it is still uncertain what happened on May 30, 1921 at the Drexel Building, the most frequently accepted narrative is that Rowland stepped on Page's foot as he boarded the elevator, causing her to scream." Each person's account of what happened next is vastly different. White residents of the city heard tales about an incident during the day, which grew crazier with each telling. The following day, Tulsa police detained Rowland and started an investigation.

On May 31 and June 1, 1921, more than a thousand homes and businesses were destroyed during the course of eighteen horrifying hours. Carloads of armed whites conducted "drive-by" shootings, fires had been started on the edges of the African American business district but quickly swept throughout the Greenwood District, leaving hundreds injured or dead. 


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