Knowing the Massacre injured the reputation and standing of the whole of Tulsa and its White citizens, the City, County, and Chamber colluded in a campaign to cover up the true nature of the destruction of Greenwood, characterizing the Massacre as a “race riot” to misrepresent the attack and extent of the damage.

For example, in a statement to the local newspaper a day after the Massacre, Alva J. Niles, President of the Chamber at the time, falsely blamed the Massacre on “a group of negroes exhibiting a spirit of lawlessness.”[1]  T.D. Evans, then mayor of the City, stated, “Let the blame for this Negro uprising lie right where it belongs—on those armed Negroes and their followers who started this trouble and who instigated it and any who seek to put half the blame on the white people are wrong and should be told so in no uncertain language.”[2] The Tribune wrote “in this old ‘Niggertown’ were a lot of bad niggers and a bad nigger is about the lowest thing that walks on two feet…Well, the bad niggers started it.”[3]

Those statements embodied the Chamber, Tulsa County, and the City of Tulsa’s actions in covering up the true causes of the Massacre by asserting that “people with no authority were quickly armed,” rather than acknowledging that the White mob was in fact deputized by state and local government authorities  .

Next, to deflect the negative attention the Massacre was causing, the City promised in statements to the press, “to formulate a plan of reparation in order that homes may be built … as quickly as possible rehabilitation will take place and reparation made.”[4] However, not only did the City not compensate the victims of the Massacre, through the Chamber’s Public Welfare Board, they rejected monetary aid from around the country that was intended to assist Greenwood residents displaced as a result of the Massacre.  In fact, a $1,000 contribution from the Chicago Tribune was returned by the City and the Chamber.[5]

[1]       Okla. Historian, Hannibal Johnson, Gives Annotation of 1921 Tulsa Chamber Meeting Minutes, The Black Wall Street Times, June 30, 2020. (Last visited August 4, 2020).

[2]       See generally Tulsa Tribune, June 14, 1921. The blaming of  Black victims for their own death when they are harmed by the City is still the dominant policy and practice today.

[3]       It Must Not Be, Tulsa Tribune, June 4, 1921.

[4]       City to Meet Demands of Own Purse, Tulsa Tribune, June 3, 1921, at .

[5]       See Dallas Offers Assistance, Tulsa World (June 4, 1921).

Tulsa Race Massacre: For years it was called a riot. Not anymore. Here's how it changed.