The attack on Black Wall Street

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The attack on Black Wall Street was a catastrophic attack on the prosperous and one of the wealthiest black community. The attack was on the black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was organized and led by hundreds of white Americans.  This attack happened between May 31st and June 1st of 1921.  It was catalyzed by the publication of two provocative articles on two white newspapers. The articles claimed that a young black man called Dick Roland had attempted to rape a white female elevator operator. A group of armed young black men predicted Roland was going to be lynched and as such defended the police station where Roland was detained. Nevertheless, this did not stop the whites from making a confrontation that resulted to the death of some whites. The death of the whites led them to form a massive mob that burned down the entire Greenwood. Hundreds were killed as well as business and homes being burned down. Many more people were left homeless and this was a catalyst to other riots that followed.

The ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson tightened racial divides through segregation and its separate but equal ideology. It also played a key role in the passing of Jim Crow laws in the south. This ruling was overturned in 1954 after the Brown v. Board of Education hearings.

Black soldiers returning from war were perceived as a threat by whites as they showed a strong sense of pride and citizenship. This was seen as a big blow to the power of the white supremacists.

Historically black universities and colleges provided the educated vanguards of the black community, mainly in the case of highly trained and skilled lawyers like those ones who combatted segregation and racial inequality from the courtrooms.The attack on Black Wall Street


Zinn, H. (2003). A People’s History of the United States. New York, New York: HarperCollins.

  1. (2014, January 04). The African Americans Many Rivers to Cross Episode 4- Making A Way Out of No Way 1897 1940. Retrieved September 13, 2016, from