Tulsa Race Riot of 1921


Dick Rowland Arrested

May 30, 1921

Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old African American who worked as a shoeshine, was riding the elevator in the Drexel Building. The elevator operator, a young white woman named Sarah Page, claimed that Rowland grabbed her arm, causing her to scream and flee in panic. The story of the alleged attack sped through the white community, becoming more elaborate and fearsome with each recounting. The next day, Tulsa police arrested Rowland and began their investigation.

Riot Begins

May 31, 1921

Mass of whites began a rampage, killing blacks and destroying thousands of homes and business in the African American community of Greenwood, just outside Tulsa.

Greenwood Emptied Out

June 1, 1921

Deputies Arresting Residents (blacks) in Greenwood Neighborhood

June 1, 1921

The deputies and Tulsa-based units of the National Guard began to sweep through Greenwood, disarming and arresting the residents, then taking them to "concentration" camps around the city, ostensibly for their protection.

Riot Ends

June 2, 1921

The NAACP sent a representative to Tulsa, OK, within a few hours of the beginning of a massive race riot in 1921. The riot lasted from May 31-June 2, and several survivors were brought to the New York City office of the NAACP to provide eyewitness accounts that were published in several white-owned newspapers.

KKK in Tulsa

April 1922

April 1922, more than 1,700 Klan members marched through downtown Tulsa while an airplane carrying an electrically lighted cross flew overhead.

Gov. J.C. Walton Declares Martial Law

August 1923

August 1923, Gov. J.C. Walton declared martial law in Tulsa County because of Klan activity.

Old Tulsa County Courthouse Demolished


The old Tulsa County Courthouse, where Dick Rowland was held and the shooting began, was demolished in 1960 to make way for a 32-story bank building.

Tulsa in 1971


Fifty years later, many inhabitants of Tulsa, white or black, had never heard of the riot.

50th Anniversary of Tulsa Race Riot

May 30, 1971

On the 50th anniversary of the riot in 1971, an article on the racial conflagration crossed Ross' desk. The article had been rejected by the Tulsa newspapers since it touched on a subject deemed too controversial.

Acknownledging the Survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921


With the number of survivors declining, in 1996, the state legislature commissioned a report to establish the historical record of the events, and acknowledge the victims and damages to the black community.

Tulsa Race Riot Survivors


Attorneys for the victims and their descendants have argued that a report issued in 2001 disclosed new information about the riot and that it was not until after the end of the Jim Crow era in the 1960s that courts became receptive to civil rights lawsuits.

Lawsuit Against Oklahoma State


A federal lawsuit was filed against the state of Oklahoma, city of Tulsa and the Tulsa Police Department on behalf of about 200 survivors and descendents of blacks living in Greenwood at the time of the riot.

95th Anniversary of Tulsa Race Riot

May 31, 2016

Senator Lankword Recognizes 95th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot with Senate Speech.