What Tulsa could teach about race

Updated Analysis:  As national media roll in to superficially cover the shooting spree that turned the nation’s Good Friday to grief; what does the apparently revenge-based horrors reflect of our people?  Not what National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast today.

Oklahoma, as one of the last states to join the Union, was expected to be a “Black and Indian” state.  Many black towns were established and some remain statewide as well as Black Ranchers and Cowboys active in significant numbers. 

In Tulsa, our "Black Wall Street" was the one place in America where Black Millionaires were not uncommon as many received land in equal portion with tribal members when freed from slavery.  Many then prospered in oil exploration, local commerce and industry.

The Race War of 1921 began as a result of the afternoon daily newspaper headline, “Black man assaults white woman” which escalated existing racial tensions.  (Media sensationalism was not invented by Al Gore.)  A black man grabbed at, but did not take a white elevator operator’s purse.  He was arrested.  Racialist whites reading the headline decided they would lynch the perpetrator and Racialist blacks, many with experience from World War I, gathered to defend the man.  Caught in the middle, law enforcement held him in custody against both groups.  

When two groups go home to get guns and return with intent to kill each other: It is war.  There was little looting beyond theft of weapons to continue the conflict in running gun battles.  Many whites sheltered black friends and employees.  Many blacks  counseled peace.  Thirty plus blocks including Black Wall Street became a smoldering mass of charcoal as the city burned and the death toll mounted.  Today the area has been rebuilt with a memorial to the historic horror.

National media can find race baiters and haters in Tulsa, but NEVER since 1921 in significant numbers.  There have always been and will always be haters in every community worldwide.  But in Tulsa, the horror was clear.  Tears of family members on both sides burned into memory what must not be allowed to happen again.  In many ways from those days forward, Tulsa has been a Liberal city as white guilt still drives some decisions. 

Tulsa is the Cosmopolitan Capital of Indian Country with three nation’s historical territory within the city limits and a percentage of Native American residents second only to Los Angeles.  When visitors ask, “Where are all the Indians” natives chuckle because the races have mixed here for so long people often don’t know unless we tell.

Tulsa is also an active, strong and growing faith-based community fundamentally committed to local and worldwide charity.

In particular with aviation and natural resource production; Tulsans travel worldwide to teach, power the industrial revolution, and contribute significant creative talent nationally from Wall Street, to Nashville, to Hollywood.  Oral Roberts University, Spartan School of Aviation, and Tulsa University students have made a significant difference worldwide.

As the Vietnam War ended, tens of thousands of refugees were welcomed in nearby Arkansas and many settled permanently in Tulsa.  There are strong Chinese and Korean communities in Tulsa with businesses and churches organized to meet those individual needs.  The Hispanic community is growing here and increasingly reflected in elected representation.  

All faiths can be found in Tulsa and there are Mosques, a Muslim elementary school and a Islamic Student Union.  People of no faith are also present in significant number in Tulsa.

As Christians celebrated Good Friday in Tulsa services, the rage against God’s word of love and offer of salvation that resulted in the crucifixion over 2000 years ago was present within Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 33, as they began to kill their neighbors.  As with the accusers of Jesus, there was no love in the hearts of England and Watts that day.  There was personal rage, revenge, hopelessness and stupidity.

The Nation magazine in attacking former-Representative Steve Largent years ago did a story entitled “Tulsa Shame” while examining the 1921 conflict.  Funny thing, while The Nation damned Conservative Republicans in that story, there were no elected Republicans in Oklahoma in 1921.  Oklahoma became a Republican dominated state after 100 years of examples of Democrat corruption and national party policies that disenfranchise patriotic Liberty loving Oklahoma Democrats.

Today NPR is politicizing the Tulsa shootings by England and Watts while branding the entire state as racists.  Click here to read more of the interview of local historian Scott Ellsworth on Breitbart.com.

From 1921, Ellsworth makes the jump to today’s “conservative” political leanings.  What a humiliation Ellsworth must be to those who impartially study Oklahoma history.

Let’s keep politics and sensationalism out of it.

A careful look at Tulsa both past and present could teach much more.