Ms. Viola Fletcher, 107, a survivor of the Tulsa Race massacre, testifies before Congress.
I was fortunate to have a very good education on black history, which has been part of American history since the creation of what is now the United States. No thanks, of course, to my schools; I give credit to my parents. My parents hated the use of the term “racial insurrection,” which was often used to cover up the murder and massacre of blacks in this nation. My father particularly hated the term, as he was actually charged with “inciting rioting” during World War II when, as a Tuskegee aviator in uniform, he was attacked and almost beaten to death by a crowd of white racists.
With this in mind, I wrote about the 1921 attack on Tulsa’s Black Wall Street four years ago and found that it was not a “racial uprising” but a massacre. It wasn’t my first story, and it won’t be my last. One of the first stories I wrote here at Daily Kos in 2008 was about the massacre; I never called it riot and I won’t.
Blaming black people for our own deaths by whites – be it police officers or vigilante groups killing us en masse or at individual lynch picnics – has been taking too long. The good news? Since my last attempt to address this tragedy, a quick search reveals that headlines and story content have indeed shifted in recent years, especially after HBO series Watchmen raised the profile of this well-hidden piece of racist American history. “Turmoil” has been eliminated from most headlines and text; “Massacre” is now the default descriptor. It is a beginning. Eventually we see the faces and hear the words of survivors like Ms. Viola Fletcher, 107, who testified before Congress this month and wrote about whom Marissa Higgins wrote: “If you see anything today, make sure it’s these testimonies from the massacre of Tulsa are survivors. “