Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Hey there Campers;

Do you ever have those days where you seem to forget where everything is? We awoke to a cooler day. We decided to go to breakfast at the Hard Rock because today is buy on get one all day long. By the time we got ready it was almost time for the food line to shut down. So we decided to just go to Denny's. We get in the car and almost out of the parking lot I remember I left my phone. So we came back to the Hilton. Got to Denny's and realized that I forgot my camera. So we turn around at come back to the Hilton. Lo was very cool and did not say a word. I did a quick inventory to make sure I was not missing anything before I got in that car this time. Whew!

At Denny's we met a wonderful waitress named Andy. (Her real name is Andrea but most people cannot say is so she goes by Andy.) She has the amazing talent of taking your order and not writing anything down. I spoke to her about this and she told me she can remember up to 10 orders at a time. She also said that she was in nursing school and hope to start her RN soon. She said she gave her 4 boys (ages 18,19,20,21) notice that she wants all of them out of her home by year end so she can concentrate on herself. Wow she really deserved this. She had great people skills that could be seen by all. I wished her luck in her new career.

We traveled on to the sites of Tulsa. Barbie told me that Tulsa was very different from OK City. Boy is she ever correct. Tulsa is the Beverly Hills to LA. There are wooded parks, refined museum like the Philbrook Museum of Fine Art. Fancy homes. (Don't get me wrong. OK City has some of these same items.) There is just a feeling of refiness.  OK maybe it is just called stuck up ness.

Did you know the Gap Band was from Tulsa? Ok those who do not know the group need to Google it.

Talk about strange there is a university inside of a university. The Langston Univ. is part of a land grant historically for black institutions of higher learning.

We ventured on to Greenwood Cultural Center. This center houses the information about the 1921 race riots. I know very little about this incident as it was hardly discussed in any of the history books black or white.  It seemed to be a Tulsa secret.

You know me, I love my history. So buckle your seats and here we go. The first African Americans came to OK as slaves of the Five Civilized Tribes who were removed from the southeastern part of the US to Indian Territory. By 1900 African Americans were 5% of Tulsa's population. They began to form their own community along the Greenwood and Archer streets. Even though they were near Tulsa they functioned as a separate city and lived as a self sufficient community.  


At it's The main street peak Greenwood was recognized as one of the most successful African American business districts in the nation. Booker T. Washington called it the "Black Wall Street of America." It hosted outstanding jazz performers like Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong. Helped to define the arts in the black areas.

Some Blacks were professional some were lynched. While there seemed to be a peaceful coexistence between the African American and white citizens of Tulsa, racial tensions existed and culminated in an incident of staggering proportions. A black man (Dick Rowland) was reported as assaulting a white woman on an elevator during the day time. This triggered the race riot on June 1, 1921. To this day the information on the riot remains incomplete. However, the results are well known.  More than 1,000 homes, 23 churches and scores of African American businesses were burned. Over 350 people died. In 3 days 35 blocks were demolished and property losses exceeded $5,000,000. That is a lot of loss.

A white mob outside the County Courthouse was made up of nearly 2,000 people. They blocked the sidewalks and the streets. It was made up of men, women and children. And they had guns. The sheriff tried to talk the lynchers into going home, but he was hooted down by the mob. The sheriff organized his handful of deputies around Dick Rowland. He also disabled the elevator and ordered his men a the top of the stairs to shoot any intruders on sight. The Tulsa police chief claimed he too tried to talk the lynchers into going home. At no time did he order a substantial number of his sixty-four man police force to appear at the Courthouse.(Mmmm. sounds fishy to me.) Outside of the offices of the Tulsa Star, the leading black newspaper, a large group of men and women gathered to debate what to do. They were also waiting on word of what was going on downtown. Smaller groups of armed black men began make trips downtown by car to see what is going on and demonstrate their determinations to the whites that Dick Rowland would not be lynched.

A little after 10 PM a rumor began circulate that the white mob was storming the Courthouse so a second group of armed African American men , numbering 75+ head toward the Courthouse. The men got out of their car and marched single file to the Courthouse.  As before, they offered their services to the authorities to help protect Dick Rowland. They were refused again. As they were leaving a white man attempted to disarm a tall African American World War 1 vet. A struggled ensued, and a shot rang out an America's worst race riot began.

Call to Arms. In the city's African American neighborhoods, word of what had happened at the courthouse was followed by even more disturbing news. A light skinned black man, who could "pass" for white, had mingled with some white rioters downtown. He overheard talk of attacking black neighborhoods. Returning home he told what he heard to Seymour Williams, at teacher at Booker T. Washington High School. Word spread. Along the southernmost edge of the black community, the oncoming gunfire had already confirmed that far more than a lynching was underway. While many black men and women began taking steps to protect their homes and businesses, other sat tight hoping daybreak would bring an end to the violence. A few others began to leave town. Some of these folks were killed as they fled Tulsa.


There was only one white family, the Henry Zarrow's who had a grocery business on N. Greenwood. During the race riots they hid many blacks fleeing the violence's and the vigilantes. Merrill & Ruth Phelps hid and fed black victims in their basement. One was hidden in a meat locker. The First Presbyterian & Holy Family churches open their doors to fleeing victims.

Dr Andrew C. Jackson was called "the best Negro surgeon in America" by no less than the Mayo brothers, founders of the famed Mayo Clinic. Was murdered by the sheriff's "Special Deputies." His home in flames, he  raised his arms in surrender and was offered their protection, then shot twice, dumped on the steps of Convention Hall, and left to bleed to death.

In compiling a report to the Oklahoma Commission, Historian Dr. Danny Goble states: "In some, government participated in the deed. In some government performed the deed. In none did government prevent the deed. In none did the government punish the deed."

What a powerful statement.

Through it all this area was able to survive. There was a bill in the state legislation repay the families for the atrocities they endured. All the claims were denied.

We ventured on to the John Hope Franklin, Tower of Reconciliation. It is a very calm and healing place.



Please note that all information on the Race Riots was obtain from the Greenwood Cultural Center.

Please note that today's blog is broken into 2 parts as both subjects are long.

Question of the Day:

Who founded the "city of Greenwood"?

Bonus question:

What famous Black actress is from Tulsa?
Hint: She has been in a couple of Tyler Perry's movies. Won 4 Emmys, Nominated for an Oscar

Well, until next time Campers
Lo & Bren


  1. What an ugly history - many, MANY cities have "secret" racial histories that are nasty like that, unfortunately. I wonder if that's even taught in Tulsa schools... doubtful. People like to forget that type of thing so that they can pretend they "don't see color." Um, not likely!

    O.W. Gurley was the founder of Greenwood in Tulsa, OK.
    Um... Alfre Woodard was born in Tulsa...? I'm not sure who Jennifer Jones is, but I at least know for sure Alfre is an AfAm actress!!

  2. Sista' sounds like your Tuesday was similar to my Tuesday. Hahahahaa. At least we are in good company!

    Sad, sad history of hate and violence which never leads to a solution but more hate and violence.

  3. I'm just learning about the secret city histories! It is truly shameful! I'm just glad that not everyone, expresses a love for them!