The Burning

The Burning

Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

Book - 2001
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"A powerful book, a harrowing case study made all the more so by Madigan's skillful, clear-eyed telling of it." -- Adam Nossiter, The New York Times Book Review

On the morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob numbering in the thousands marched across the railroad tracks dividing black from white in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and obliterated a black community then celebrated as one of America's most prosperous. 34 square blocks of Tulsa's Greenwood community, known then as the Negro Wall Street of America, were reduced to smoldering rubble.

And now, 80 years later, the death toll of what is known as the Tulsa Race Riot is more difficult to pinpoint. Conservative estimates put the number of dead at about 100 (75% of the victims are believed to have been black), but the actual number of casualties could be triple that. The Tulsa Race Riot Commission, formed two years ago to determine exactly what happened, has recommended that restitution to the historic Greenwood Community would be good public policy and do much to repair the emotional as well as physical scars of this most terrible incident in our shared past.

With chilling details, humanity, and the narrative thrust of compelling fiction, The Burning will recreate the town of Greenwood at the height of its prosperity, explore the currents of hatred, racism, and mistrust between its black residents and neighboring Tulsa's white population, narrate events leading up to and including Greenwood's annihilation, and document the subsequent silence that surrounded the tragedy.

Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2001.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780312302474
Branch Call Number: 976.686 Madigan 11/2001
Characteristics: xix, 297 p., [16] p. of plates :,ill. ;,22 cm.


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Oct 30, 2020

"I say it was good generalship to let the destruction come to that section where the trouble was hatched up, put in motion, and where it had its inception."-Tulsa mayor Thaddeus Evans
It's a little embarrassing, but I didn't know about the 1921 Tulsa massacre (calling it a race riot is a bit misleading) until it was used as a plot element in "Watchmen," which let you know this was not an ordinary comic/superhero series. I guess blame the American educational system? Anyway, this is an absorbing, well-researched, and often sickening history of the day in 1921, when, following a clash between blacks and whites over a wrongfully accused black man, the white residents of Tulsa destroyed the black part of town (sometimes called "the black Wall Street") and killed dozens (the numbers are disputed) without any repercussions. It it was in another country, it would've been called a pogrom. It's shocking that this happened, was covered up, and is still not widely known.
Other books on the subject are "Tulsa, 1921" and "Reconstructing the Dreamland."
"Eldoris, wake up! We have to go! The white people are killing the colored folks!"

The Observer, who has an inside source, predicts that no mass graves will be found in the upcoming search of three possible sites. They'll move on to other locations.


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