Maurice Willows Unsung Hero

1830 Words8 Pages
Maurice Willows: Unsung Hero of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 During the early 1900s, African Americans continued their struggle for civil rights on a national scale with seemingly no definitive solution in sight. In the wake of one of the most violent race riots in American history, one man sought to overlook racial differences and the rules of his own organization to provide aid to those in need. Through the leadership of Maurice Willows during the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, the American Red Cross compromised their mission enabling the organization to be the sole responder, provider of relief, and champion of African American rights. Maurice Willows’ decision to defy the tenets of the Red Cross made him an unsung hero who saved countless lives.…show more content…
Evans, wrote an urgent letter to the Red Cross stating, “Please establish headquarters for all relief work, & bring all organizations who can assist you to your aid --- the responsibility is placed in your hands entirely.” In response, the Director of Relief for the Red Cross, Maurice Willows, went to Tulsa. Born in Clinton, Canada on April 16, 1876, Willows worked at the Red Cross headquarters in St. Louis during the late spring of 1921 and was one of the first Red Cross employees to be sent to the rioting Tulsa after its cry for help. Upon witnessing the horrific state of the city, Maurice Willows contacted the Red Cross headquarters in Washington D.C., asking to classify this riot as a natural disaster so that the organization could respond. It is because of this, that for the first time in its history, the Red Cross responded to, and cared for survivors, of a catastrophe that was not the result of nature, but rather a man-made disaster. After being sent to Tulsa, Willows wrote, “it seemed clear that the trouble did not have any providential causes, and, as the Red Cross had never taken a hand in man-made disasters, I called Washington with the report that: there was an unknown number of homeless refugees, all negroes; there was no adequate relief organization in town; on account of the divisions between the whites and negroes…”. The American Red Cross responded within the first 24 hours of the riot and found over 8000 homeless African Americans. The Red Cross also found that African Americans were denied adequate treatment and set up a makeshift hospital in a local school, and manned two first aid and infant welfare stations. While working in Tulsa, a Red Cross nurse stated, “I can never erase the sights of my first visit to the hospital. There were men wounded in every conceivable way, like soldiers after a big battle. Some with amputated limbs, burned faces, others
Open Document