June 2, 2021- Much long overdue attention has been focused, over the past week, on the Centenary of the destruction and massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood section, on May 31-June 1, 1921. The President has visited, and met with three survivors, commemorative events have been held around the country, and in other nations, and even the Murdochs, in their National Geographic Magazine, have commissioned well-thought-out articles on the horrific event, and on race identity in general. I will make my own visit of homage to Tulsa, and to Greenwood, after visiting with my son and daughter-in-law, outside Dallas, next month.
Many did not know of this stain on our history, until recently, but as a country, we have long known of the legacy of the slave trade and its aftermath. “The Underground Railroad”, whose televised depiction I am viewing now, on Amazon Prime, gives even more graphic illustration of what went on in many, if not most, plantations and smallholder farms, where slavery fueled the economy. That mindset died hard, where it did die at all, even in “Free” states. There is still far too much of the concept of “Us” vs. “Them”, even among those who say they abide the presence of people of colour. I can see it, in the readiness of so many to embrace restrictive laws, in the areas of voting, of residence and of taxation for the public weal. There are those who would summarily execute people illegally crossing both borders or homeless people in large cities-and there are more of the “I, the Jury” types than one would care to think.
I first learned of the Greenwood Massacre-and similar events in Chicago, Detroit, East St. Louis and Rosewood, Florida in 1973, during a class entitled U.S. History Since 1877. The instructor, Dr. Israelsohn, was a classical conservative, but had no use for race-baiting and the systemic segregation that occurred in every part of the country, to some degree or another, right up until the time that course was offered. Her conservatism was that of true free enterprise and self-sufficiency.
That people can mature and develop, admirably, in so many ways, yet be unable to recognize the futility of Zero-Sum, increasingly escapes me. Where there is enough to share-then there is room to share, as well. Where there is enough to cover the feet of the people around oneself, then why hog the blanket? To be sure, this is one reason why I travel-and it is one reason why community service is a priority. Where there is real connection, there is no “Other”.
Let there be no more Greenwood Massacres, of any kind.