Tulsa Race Riot
Greenwood, AKA: Black Wall Street
May 30 – June 1, 1921
“Strange Fruit” by Abel Meeropol
• Abel Meeropol wrote this poem under the
name, Lewis Allen.
• He wrote this song in response to the picture
he saw of two men who were lynched.
• Song became the anti-lynching movement’s
theme song in the 1950s and 60s – made
famous by Billie Holiday in the late 1930s
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
• Who? Residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma
• Black Wall Street located in Greenwood, a
suburb of Tulsa
-16 hours of rioting, the worst racial riot in US history
-The events started with a white woman’s word against a black man’s word.
-Sarah Page and Dick Rowland – elevator incident
-Newspaper, Tulsa Tribune, printed the story
-There were rumors that a white lynch mob was after Mr. Rowland
-Black men armed themselves to protect their friend; white men armed
themselves to protected themseves against the African-American groups
-The events started with a white woman’s
word against a black man’s word.
- Elevator incident occurred on May 30th, 1921
- Story was published on May 31st, 1921
- Riot happened on June 1st, 1921
Where? Black Wall Street; Tulsa, Oklahoma
What was destroyed?
Over 600 successful businesses were lost
21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two
a hospital, bank, post office, libraries, schools, law offices,
half-a-dozen private airplanes and even a bus system
Property damage totaled $1.5 million