It’s the early hours of the morning, and the streets of Tulsa are filled with blood and fear. The city is on fire, with gunfire exploding across the night. As the black residents of Greenwood flee, an angry white mob burns their homes and businesses to the ground. In fact, it’s one of the worst race riots in history. But it will take 70 years before the full horror of this night is revealed.
Racial tensions ran high across the United States in the aftermath of World War I. Although many black men had fought alongside whites during the war, the cooperation and camaraderie appeared to end there. In northeast Oklahoma, the atmosphere was especially strained.
In cities such as Tulsa, white veterans were struggling to find work in the cities they returned home to. Frustrated, many came to blame the black populace for their predicament. At the same time, black veterans were demanding more rights. They believed that the service they had given their country should earn them greater civil liberties.