When President Trump announced that he would be rallying his supporters on June 19th in Tulsa, it scanned to many as a vicious one-two punch. After all, June 19th, or Juneteenth, marks the day in 1865 when Union general Gordon Granger told the enslaved people of Texas that they were finally free. And Tulsa is the city where, in 1921, a white mob decimated the prosperous Black community of Greenwood, known by many as “Black Wall Street.” But if Trump didn’t know about the wholesale decimation of Black Wall Street, he wouldn’t be alone; devastating as it was, the complete story of the massacre is a little-known chapter of American history.
According to Russell Cobb, native Tulsan, professor at the University of Alberta and author of The Great Oklahoma Swindle: Race, Religion, and Lies in America’s Weirdest State, the massacre wasn’t some spontaneous crisis, as the term “riot” suggests. Rather, it was an outgrowth of long-simmering prejudices, stoked by a bigoted local press. Cobb talks to Brooke about the massacre, and how the local, regional and national media obscured the anti-Blackness at the political and socioeconomic core of an up-and-coming American city.