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Survivors Of Race Riots Want Reparations

From those defenders of justice at the Washington Post:

Survivors of Tulsa Race Riots Seek Help From Congress for a Wrong Never Righted

By Lois Romano
Thursday, April 26, 2007; A27

Legendary black historian John Hope Franklin captivated a congressional hearing this week when he eloquently urged members to pass legislation that would clear the way for survivors of the nation’s worst race riots to sue for reparations.

The federal courts have ruled that the statute of limitations has expired for the victims and heirs to sue the city of Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma over losses during 1921 race riots that left more than 200 blacks dead and 400 businesses and countless homes in a prosperous black neighborhood torched. At the time, the legal system did not allow the black community any legal remedies.

“There was a code of silence that settled” over Tulsa, said Franklin, in explaining why legal action was not brought sooner. Those who survived, he said, “suffered most of their lives through the trauma.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said the issue merits congressional attention because of evidence suggesting that governmental officials deputized and armed the mob. Harvard legal scholar Charles J. Ogletree, who has been representing the victims, noted that “no one has ever been held responsible criminally or civilly for destroying a 42-block area.”

Ogletree introduced 104-year-old Otis Clark, a survivor of the riots, and asked the committee to provide justice to the remaining survivors before they die. University of Alabama law professor Alfred L. Brophy called the riots a way of keeping the blacks “in their place.” Olivia J. Hooker, six years old during the riots, said her mother told her “your country is shooting at you.”

“This was devastating to me,” she said at the hearing.

Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary subcommittee for civil rights seemed sympathetic to the arguments. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) arrived at the hearing with her cab driver, who told her he was interested in the legislation. He got an ovation.

Some members asked whether it would be enough to simply pledge that this would never happen again.

Franklin, 92, who was born in Oklahoma and whose father was in Tulsa at the time of the riots, argued that had the riots not occurred, many descendants might be further “along the road of prosperity.”

The prolific and revered educator told of a colossal slight at a private club where he had been celebrating his 1995 White House Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“A white woman came up to me and said, ‘Here, you get my coat,’ ” he recalled. “What was I doing there except to serve her?

“‘No more’ is not good enough.” …

Read up on the 1921 Tulsa riots.

From a pro-reparations site:

The Riot began on May, 31,1921 because of an incident the day before. A black man named Dick Rowland, stepped into an elevator in the Drexel Building operated by a woman named Sarah Page. Suddenly, a scream was heard and Rowland got nervous and ran out. Rowland was accused of a sexual attack against Page. One version of the incident holds that Rowland stepped on Page’s foot, throwing her off balance. When Rowland reached out to keep her from falling, she screamed. The next day, Rowland was arrested and held in the courthouse lockup. Headlines in the local newspapers inflamed public opinion and there was talk in the white community of lynch justice. The black community, equally incensed, prepared to defend him. Outside the courthouse, 75 armed black men mustered, offering their services to protect Rowland The Sheriff refused the offer.

A white man then tried to disarm one of the black men. While they were wrestling over the gun, it discharged. That was the spark the turned the incident into a massive racial conflict. Fighting broke out and continued through the night. Homes were looted and burned.

Though they were outnumbered 10 to 1, Black’s, many of whom were veterans of WWI, started to form battles lines and dig trenches. The conflict shifted to the northern part of Tulsa in the Frisco tracks area. The Tulsa police force was too small to stop the rioters, so the mayor, T. D. Evans, asked the governor to send in the National Guard. While the National Guard was on its way to Tulsa, whites set fire to houses and stores. Fire companies could not fight the fire because rioters drove them away.

On June 1, 1921, a big cloud of smoke covered The northern region of Tulsa. Later that morning, the last stand of the conflict occurred at foot of Standpipe Hill. According to the Tulsa Tribune, the National Guard mounted two machine guns and fired into the area. The black groups surrendered and were disarmed. They were taken in columns to Convention hall, the McNulty Baseball Park, the Fairgrounds and to a flying field. Some survivors later alleged that planes were involved in the destruction of Greenwood City.

Many black residents left Tulsa to the Osage Hills and its surrounding towns. According to an official estimate 10 whites and 26 blacks were killed. However, later reports, never verified, raised that number to 300 killed. After, the Riot had ended, relief started to come the survivors, especially from The Red Cross. Hospitals were set up to treat the wounded. Food and clothes were given out. People received temporally shelters to live in while their houses were rebuilt…

Why should anyone be given reparations?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, April 26th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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