Black Families Sue Over 1921 ‘Black Wall Street’ Massacre in Tulsa

(Photo credit: / Everett Historical)

By A.R. Shaw | September 3, 2020 | The Black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was one of the wealthiest areas in the nation during the early 1900s. The community featured dozens of businesses, a hospital and top-notch homes that all were owned by Black people.

However, after a White woman reportedly lied on a Black man, claiming that he attempted to assault her, a White mob killed hundreds of Blacks and burned the entire town. From May 31 until June 1, 1921, the community burned.

There also were reports that a bomb was dropped on the area.

Along with casualties, the survivors of the attacks lost millions of dollars in real estate and the town never recovered.

On Sept. 1, 2020, the survivors and descendants filed a lawsuit for the damage inflicted on Greenwood’s Black residents, according to KJRH-TV. Lessie E. Benningfield Randle, 105, is the oldest living survivor.

Defendants in the lawsuit include the city of Tulsa, the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Tulsa Development Authority, the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, Sheriff Vic Regalado, and the Oklahoma National Guard.

“Beginning on May 31, 1921, and lasting through June 1, 1921, one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism in United States history since slavery completely decimated Tulsa’s thriving, all-Black community of Greenwood,” according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons.

“This brutal, inhumane attack robbed thousands of African Americans of their right of self-determination on which they had built this self-sustaining community…Defendants looted and destroyed Mother Randle’s grandmother’s home, rendered her insecure in her health and sense of safety in the immediate aftermath of the massacre and caused her to have emotional and physical distress to this day.”

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