The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Bloody Tulsa 1921:
Historical Suppression

Jun 29, 2020

May 31st and June 1st of 2021 will mark the 100-year-anniversary of the massacre of 300 black people in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The attack was instigated by white supremacist organizations. Tulsa, at the time, was said to be home to 3,200 Ku Klux Klan members.

In 1921, when a 19-year-old black man was falsely accused of assaulting a white woman, a white lynch mob descended on the courthouse where he was being held. Dozens of black Tulsans organized an armed self-defense to protect the young man.

The official city leadership of Tulsa then deputized 100 right-wing white men and let them loose on the Greenwood neighborhood, or in other words, Black Tulsa. The white, heavily armed mob, now numbering about a thousand, looted, robbed and burned black homes and businesses for two days.

The Governor of Oklahoma then called out the National Guard, who, along with the white racist deputies and vigilantes, arrested 6000 Black Tulsans. Their “crime”? Trying to defend themselves!

The terrorism that the black population of Tulsa experienced was much like that carried out by death squads in poor countries today.

Witnesses reported that a black man was forced to his knees and beheaded by the white mob. Somehow, private airplanes were available and used to drop turpentine fire bombs on people and property, eventually burning all 40 city blocks of Black Tulsa to the ground. On the street, black folks were machine-gunned down.

The atrocities that happened in Tulsa in 1921 are part of the racist, violent foundation current police brutality is built on. It is a history that all should know and understand.

This history has long been suppressed and never reckoned with. Because of the Black Lives Matter movement, the significance of these historical events, long buried, are starting to be unearthed and talked about.