Tulsa Race Massacre Anniversary


The Tulsa Race Massacre, previously known as the Tulsa Race Riot, took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921. It is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the United States.

Through the years there have been many initiatives to repair the damage from those fateful days. History allows us to visit the past so we shall never let it happen again.

Our storyteller is Otis Clark, who was 19 years old May 31, 1921. Otis and his friend became targets for rifle shots from whites across the street. In Chapters 2, 3 and 4 Otis talks about the days leading up to the massacre, the bullets fired at him and the aftermath.

“The riot was just starting. The whites were taking over that section of the city, which was closest to them, just across the Frisco tracks. My cousin, they lived way out on Greenwood and had a little café way up out on Greenwood there. So we made up our minds to try to get out to where they lived. But when we got out there, they were fixing to go to Claremore to kind of get out of the troubled area.” Listen to the full interview here.

                                               Also available as a PODCAST.
Margery Mayo Bird was five years old May 31, 1921. This is from her oral history:

“The Race Riot for me was that I remember that my father told Charlie who happened to be the driver and the butler at that time, that he could not go home, that he was staying there at the house. He did not want him going home, so he stayed.”

At 105, Wavel Ashbaugh remembered the Tulsa Race Massacre: “I remember… yes, a little bit. But I do know that there was trouble because we had a black man and his wife that worked for us. And my mother took them over back roads and get them to safety. I don’t know where she took them but they said, “Mama’s gone to take them to safety.” And she took them away someplace to be safe.”

Wavel died March 11, 2019. She was 108.

Thank you for listening, and for sharing these stories with your friends. Make time to record your family history…You will be glad you did!