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June 1st, 1921 will forever be remembered as a day of great loss and devastation.
It was on this day that America experienced the deadliest race riot in the small town of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Both men, with their families’ roots in enslavement, shared a distrust of white people and went by their initials, OW and JB respectively, instead of their first names.
During the massacre, 35 square blocks of homes and businesses were torched by mobs of angry whites.
The ransacking began because of the alleged assault of a white elevator operator, 17-year-old Sarah Page, by a black shoeshiner, 19-year-old Dick Rowland.
He used his wealth to help start a black Masonic lodge in Greenwood and an employment agency, and he contributed to efforts to push back against black voter suppression in the state.
Gurley was made a sheriff’s deputy by the city of Tulsa and charged with policing the black population in Greenwood.
Following behind OW and JB, white developers began to buy up plots of land north of the railroad tracks and sell them to blacks.