Summary Of The Tulsa Race Riot Of 1921

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The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 was an extremely shocking and violent event in American history that unfortunately resulted in the absolute destruction of the prosperous African American neighborhood of Greenwood. In the book, "Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921," Scott Ellsworth provides the readers with a comprehensive account of the not just the riot, but also its causes, and most importantly, its aftermath. The author shifts his focus throughout the book about the economic, political, and social factors that contributed to the extremely high tensions between the African American and white communities that were in Tulsa. By doing so, light can be shined on what many believe was the root cause of this atrocity. He also vividly …show more content…

This was unlike any other city in the south because during this time the Jim Crow laws made it next to impossible for any sort of black owned business to thrive. Ellsworth goes on to state that "Greenwood was a community where the African American dream was being lived," and that the community was home to the “largest concentration of black-owned businesses in the United States in the early 1920s” (Ellsworth, 20). This was amazing as the residents of Greenwood were not only able to solely support the black-owned businesses, but it also provided everyone with booming employment opportunities, which helped to create a cycle of economic prosperity. Ellsworth also notes, that "the African American community of Greenwood was a self-sustaining city within a city" (Ellsworth, 20). This led to the city getting the nickname the “Black Wall Street”. This was indeed a well-deserved nickname as it’s shown that Greenwood was known for its vibrant cultural and social life, boasting its own hotels, beauty parlors, law offices and a myriad of other shops. Ellsworth also goes on to say that "Greenwood was a beacon of hope in a sea of racism and discrimination" (Ellsworth, 20). This shows just how unique the situation was in Greenwood as it …show more content…

In "Death in a Promised Land," Ellsworth explores the twin oral traditions that developed in the time that followed the massacre: one white and one black. According to Ellsworth, "the fact that the two communities saw the events of May 31-June 1 so differently had much to do with the different perspectives each brought to the massacre. (Ellsworth, 21). This shows that the whites believed they were being threatened whereas we know this wasn’t the case and that the blacks were simply protecting themselves from this massacre. This divergence in perspective shows how complex historical events can be, especially when there is 2 sides that are polar opposites of each other. Ellsworth also goes on to say, "memories are malleable, and the stories we tell ourselves about the past are always subject to change." (Ellsworth, 21). How two sides view this massacre so differently is a powerful reminder that nothing is truly set in stone and that history can often be subject to change if more powerful voices overshine what really

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