Brad DeLong provides extracts from a Financial Times column on the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921: "The 1921 Tulsa Riot". Here are some more:
"Historians call the firestorm that convulsed Tulsa from the evening of May 31 into the afternoon of June 1 the single worst event in the history of American race relations...
...In 1921, a leafy neighbourhood sprawled here [North Tulsa - Ben]. Back then it was called Greenwood, and it was a black neighbourhood as affluent as any in America. Its small but thriving business district was dubbed "black Wall Street". Greenwood, as Clark and other survivors remember it, was a city within a city. "We had it all," he says, "Shops, schools, movie theatres, doctors, lawyers, newspapers -you name it."
Sixteen years earlier a vast petroleum field had been discovered nearby, and by 1921 Tulsa had become known as "the oil capital of the world". The town was awash in oil dollars, and the ascendant class of oilmen and their families needed more than domestics - they needed a service sector. Greenwood bloomed... as many as 10,000 blacks enjoyed the quiet and prosperity on the western edge of the Ozark Mountains. But Greenwood posed a challenge. "The old order would not stand much longer," wrote legal scholar Alfred Brophy in Reconstructing the Dreamland, the most recent of more than half a dozen books on the riot. "It was a culture that would not easily abide unequal treatment."
The riot began, as the battles in America's race wars often seem to, with an allegation of sexual assault. On the warm afternoon of Memorial Day, May 30, 1921, in the Drexel Building that still stands downtown, a 19-year-old black shoeshine boy named Dick Rowland had gone to the "coloured" men's toilets on the top floor. Sarah Page, a 17-year-old white girl - an orphan, Tulsans were soon told, working her way through college - ran the elevator. What transpired between the two remains a mystery, but whether Rowland tripped, or grabbed Page's hand, or never even touched her, the girl screamed. It was enough. By the following afternoon, a front- page headline in the Tulsa Tribune, trusted daily of the town's white citizens, exhorted: "Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator". Rowland, the Tribune cried, had attacked Page. The spectre of rape raised, the lynching calls ensued.
At the courthouse downtown where Rowland was being held, a white mob squared off against armed black men. Veterans of the first world war, they had come from Greenwood to stave off a lynching. Shots broke out and mayhem ensued. Officers of the Tulsa police and county sheriff's department sided with the whites, hastily deputising hundreds and handing out weapons. National Guard troops were called in from neighbouring towns, arriving in trucks mounted with machine-guns. The guardsmen not only abetted the violence, but disarmed and rounded up hundreds of black defenders of Greenwood. As the whites fired at will, local biplanes circled above, scouting for blacks and - according to some reports - dropping incendiary explosives.
When martial law finally brought quiet, 35 blocks of Tulsa's north side - with 1,256 houses and 23 churches - had burned to the ground. Hundreds of homes and shops had been looted. Black men had been shot, burned and dragged through the streets...
...The true death toll will never be known. The confirmed count stopped at 39, but a Red Cross tally at the time ran as high as 300 dead - most of them black.
In the riot's aftermath, an all-white grand jury affirmed that "there was no mob spirit among the whites, no talk of lynching and no arms". No participant in the riot was ever tried for a felony crime."
The longer article in the Financial Times is concerned with the reparations movement in the US. DeLong was tipped off by a post at Crooked Timber.