As millions of voices join the chorus declaring that Black Lives Matter, as COVID-19 disproportionately afflicts Black communities, as President Trump holds a rally on the hallowed ground that was Black Wall Street, we need to do the work of uncovering America’s suppressed history of Black massacres.
Massacres are the violence inherent to white supremacy unleashed in full force. Taking untold scores of Black lives, these massacres have largely been erased from the public consciousness.
– In 1868, around 200 recently emancipated African Americans were killed by a white mob in Opelousas, Louisiana for registering voters.
– In 1919, as many as 237 Black farmers in Elaine, Arkansas were lynched for organizing their labor to negotiate better conditions.
– Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood was once the wealthiest Black community in the country, earning it the moniker of “Black Wall Street.” In 1921, it was bombed, burning it to the ground and leaving up to 300 dead.
– In 2015, a lone white supremacist in Charleston entered one of the country’s oldest Black churches and shot 10 worshipers in cold blood.
These events are not isolated footnotes of American history. As author Kimberly Jones recently explained in the video below, they are systematic expressions of white supremacy.
“Every time that they don’t like the way that you’re playing, or that you’re catching up, or that you’re doing something to be self-sufficient, they burn your game… So if I played 400 rounds of Monopoly, and I had to give you every dime that I made, and then for 50 years, every time that I played, if you didn’t like what I did, you got to burn it, like they did in Tulsa and like they did in Rosewood, how can you win? You can’t win. The game is fixed… They are lucky that what Black people are looking for is equality and not revenge.”
For more information on many of these massacres, the Zinn Education Project is a good resource.
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