By Bill Benson
Columnist 

Tulsa Race Riot Marks Its Centennial

 

The 1921 race riot in Tulsa began on Monday, May 30, Memorial Day, when a young black man stepped into an elevator, tripped, and either grabbed a young white girl’s arm to steady himself, or stepped on her foot. She screamed. No one else witnessed what transpired on that elevator.

Someone suspected a possible assault and called the police.

He was 19 years old. His name was Dick Rowland. He shined shoes on Main Street. A number of Tulsa’s lawyers knew Dick, because he shined their shoes, but none believed him capable of assault. He had stepped into the elevator, because he wanted to use...



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