The Tulsa race riot is a particularly ignominious blot on American history.
Over an 18-hour period on May 31-June 1, 1921, a race-fuel siege destroyed the wealthiest African-American community in the United States, wiping out 35 blocks of a residential and business community known as the “Black Wall Street,” and leaving 300 known dead and 10,000 homeless.
Yet, it’s largely an unknown event, ignored by Oklahoma history books until quite recently, and unknown by many individuals both black and white.
Otis Clark, the last known survivor of the Tulsa race riot, died this week in Seattle at the age of 109.
He told a Tulsa television station in 1999 that he remembered being shot at while attempting to secure a car to help riot victims.
Clark’s family’s home was burned to the ground in the conflagration, and he believed his stepfather died in the riot because he was never seen again.
Shortly after the melee, Clark left Tulsa on a train bound for California.