Tulsa Race Riots Of 1921 Echo Tensions Today

Oct 5, 2016
Originally published on October 4, 2016 2:54 pm

In 1921, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, erupted in race riots that left up to 300 people dead. Homes and businesses were burned.

The riot has been mostly ignored by history. But a recent fatal police shooting of an African-American man in Tulsa has re-focused attention on the city’s past.

Bruce Fisher, retired curator of the African-American projects at the Oklahoma Historical Society, and Kate Carlton Greer, a reporter for KGOU, join Here & Now‘s Robin Young to discuss Tulsa’s past and present.

Interview Highlights: Bruce Fisher & Kate Carlton Greer

On the history of the race riots

Fisher: “The word went out all around Oklahoma that they were killing black people, randomly, in Tulsa.”

“Too many times African Americans were lynched. Now it’s shootings.”

On a past forgotten by many

Fisher: “Black History Month didn’t cover that.”

Greer: “They’re supposed to be taught. But that doesn’t mean that students always hear it.”

Fisher, on one image from a collection of photographs from the riots: “It’s a very eerie reminder of what we see today with, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot.'”

Greer: “There are some people that connect the dots [with police shootings]. But, by and large, people aren’t talking about the shootings and relating them back to the race riots.”

Guests

Bruce Fisher, retired curator of the African-American projects at the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Kate Carlton Greer, reporter for KGOU. She tweets @katecgreer.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.