Quick, does anyone reading this know who Otis G. Clark, Olivia J. Hooker, and Wess H. Young is? If you have never heard of them you are not alone. Quite a few people have never heard of these true field Negroes who survived the Tulsa riots. Mr. Clark is 104, Ms. Hooker is 92, and Mr. Young is 90. That’s damn near three centuries of living between them.
All three of them were present for a symposium at the Temple University Law School this past Monday. They were there to discuss the 1921 riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
They were just children then, but they remembered.
In less than a week, over 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, and over 300 people were killed. (Some accounts say that more than 1,200 people died) Most of the rioting happened in a prosperous black area of town known as Greenwood. Of course there was no wall to wall 24 cable news coverage at the time to chronicle the horror of this event and tragic time in our history. All this happened because a black man allegedly assaulted a white woman in an elevator. As was typical at the time, some 10,000 angry white folks descended on Tulsa’s courthouse demanding noose style justice. As the story goes; about 80 field Negroes had the nerve to try to protect the accused. Well, a scuffle ensued, and all hell broke loose.
Can you imagine if some of our conservative brothers and sisters were around then? They would have blamed the riots on those unruly blacks who didn’t know how to obey the law, or know their place in society.
Well three of those blacks are still alive today. I wonder if any of my right leaning black friends would have the guts to tell these three survivors some of their bullshit conservative rhetoric to their face?
I doubt it.