One of the most significant events in Tulsa’s history was the race riot that occurred in 1921. Following World War I, Tulsa boasted one of the most affluent African American communities in the country, known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding residential area was referred to as “Black Wall Street.”
In June of 1921, a series of events nearly destroyed the entire Greenwood area. Anger ensued among the city's white residents after rumors began to spread of an encounter a young black man, Dick Rowland, had with a white woman, Sarah Page, just two days prior. Rowland was arrested and in the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Black Tulsa was looted and burned by white rioters. Governor Robertson declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa. Guardsmen assisted firemen in putting out fires and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned. Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.
In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins, over 800 people were treated for injuries. In 2001, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission released a report indicating that historians now believe close to 300 people died in the riot.
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