We know about some of the horrible atrocities that have been inflected upon African Americans overtime. Of course, one of the most horrendous of them or what history has recorded as Black Wall Street that suffered the largest massacre of non-military Americans in the America’s history. The destruction of this community began Tuesday evening, June 1, 1921, when “Black Wall Street,” the most affluent all-black community in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of resentful whites.
In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering. A model community destroyed and a major Africa-American economic movement resoundingly defused. The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among them were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even the bus system.
This historic event, you would think should be common knowledge – but not so. One would be hard-pressed to find any documentation concerning the incident, let alone an accurate accounting of it. Not in any reference or American history book documenting the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. This night of horror was unimaginable. Try if you will to imagine seeing 1,500 homes being burned and looted, while white families with their children standing around the borders of the community watching the massacre much in the same manner they would watch a lynching. It must have been beyond belief for the victims.
Many such events were witnessed and often enjoyed by the culprits for entertainment. I wonder if you were aware of this little known history fact: what the word “picnic” meant in America’s racial lexicon? It was typical to have a picnic on a Friday evening somewhere in America. The word was short for “pick a nigger” to lynch. They would lynch a Black male and cut off body parts as souvenirs. This went on every weekend in many parts of the country with thousands lynched in the first part of the last century.
I came across another incident that occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1927. There was a racial riot that erupted over the lynching of John Carter, a black man who was the fall guy for the homicide of a 12-year old white girl named Floella McDonald. The child was found in First Presbyterian Church. Originally, the blame fell on the church janitor who found the girl along with his mixed-race son. The men were safely moved to a Texarkana jail before a mob demanded blood.
In a nearby city, a 38-year-old black man named John Carter had been accused of assaulting a white woman and her daughter. The angry white mob of 5,000 people found Carter, hung him from a pole, shot him and drug him through the streets. They took him to the black community and incited a riot, breaking into buildings, including a furniture retail store. The mob piled the wooden furniture and doors from the church together, set it on fire and burned Carter’s body at the intersection of 9th and Broadway.
The Arkansas National Guard was deployed to stop the riot, and upon arrival, found one of the mob members directing traffic at the intersection with the arm of John Carter. Fortunately, the black community leader had encouraged black families to stay inside, avoiding a large death toll during the massive tension.
Once the riot and killing of Carter went to trial, it was dismissed without indictment of anyone involved. The city was concerned about their national reputation in the media. They banned distribution of the black newspapers, The Chicago Defender and The Pittsburgh Courier, with fear that it would cause more tension.
To make matters worse, the town was still in search of the killer of 12-year-old Floella McDonald. On May 19th, Lonnie Dixon, the mixed-race son of the First Presbyterian Church janitor, was tried and convicted of murder. He was sentenced to death. After being under watch by the Arkansas National Guard during trial, Dixon was executed a month later. (Source: blackamericaweb)
There are milestones, mountains, and valleys that have encompassed the African American story to which I proudly say is the “Greatest Story Ever Told”. We must never forget for if we neglect the lessons of the past we are doomed to see them repeated. Life is not a race you run; it is a relay, and it is our responsibility to pass the baton. Our youth, the next generation, must be prepared and know when they look at our communities today that they came from a people who built kingdoms.
Let me leave you with this very simple idea. There are 42 million Black people identified in the 2010 Census, which makes up 13.6 percent of the total U.S. population. Suppose a contribution of $4.00 a week was place in a fund. Multiply that $4.00 x 4 weeks = $16.00 x 12= $ 192.00, then $192.00 x half all African Americans 20 million =’s $3,840,000,000.00. Understand that’s only half the African American population; now multiply that nearly four trillion times five. Get the point.
If this simply mathematical equation could be achieved – all of the ills of our culture could be erased. Hmmmm. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…