We look like men of war: Africana male narratives and the Tulsa Race Riot, War and Massacre of 1921

Kimberly C Ellis, Purdue University


On May 31 and June 1, 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma witnessed one of the worst cases domestic terrorism ever to occur on American soil. A race riot, war and massacre—an ultimate act of racial violence was conducted against the Africana community of Greenwood (popularly known as “Black Wall Street”) by the White Tulsa community and surrounding areas. The Tulsa tragedy stands as a lesson for all humanity of the dangers of the system of White supremacy to the ideals of democracy and freedom. Using the testimonies of the Black men and women who chose to fight and defend the Greenwood community from lynching and racial violence, this dissertation places these competing narratives in the center of scholarly inquiry against the resulting, mainstream, socio-political discourse which characterized them as “lawless Negro leaders,” “black ruffians” and “troublemakers.” Contributions from men such as Andrew J. Smitherman, Walter F. White, W. E. B. Du Bois, Cyril V. Briggs, Richard B. Moore, Claude McKay, Huey P. Newton and, subsequently, Useni Eugene Perkins, provide the bases of intellectual engagement within the historical and ideological framework of Africana women such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary E. Jones Parrish and Alice Walker to broaden the understanding of self-love and the love of freedom—the foundation of the resistance to racial hatred.




Williams, Purdue University.

Subject Area

American studies|American literature|Black history|African Americans

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