Washington D.C., Jun 1, 2021 / 17:01 pm
The Bishop of Tulsa commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa racial massacre last week, in an ecumenical vespers service at Holy Family Cathedral.
“We need to know that we can be different from one another and united in love. That though we are different from one another, our dignity is equal because we are equally loved by the God who created us,” Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa said in his opening remarks at the service.
Bishop Konderla appeared alongside Rev. Dr. Robert Turner of the Historic Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church in Tulsa, at the May 30 Vespers service.
“It is hard to believe that 100 years ago people could think and act in such a way. It is unthinkable,” Bishop Konderla said in a May 27 press release, preceding the service.
“Still, it happened,” he wrote. “And it is important that we take the time to pause and reﬂect on how such an unspeakable horror could take place so that we can avoid any such evil in our own day.”
The 1921 Tulsa racial massacre, which occurred on May 31 and June 1, 1921, began with an accusation leveled against a young black man, Dick Rowland. He had supposedly stumbled in an elevator and stepped on the foot of the white woman operator, fleeing the elevator. He was accused of sexual assault.
Rowland was arrested the next day by Tulsa police and the accusation was investigated. The Tulsa Tribune reported on the ensuing conflict between Black and white groups at the courthouse, where a white mob seeking to lynch Rowland arrived and swelled in size. Black citizens showed up in Rowland’s defense.
After gunshots were fired, the African-Americans retreated to the Greenwood District, a thriving community of Black-owned businesses and residences known as the “Black Wall Street.” White rioters followed and burned and destroyed many of Greenwood’s homes and businesses.