Eric Foner, 9 September 2021
Survivors recalled seeing trucks loaded with bodies heading out of the city, presumably to burial sites in unknown locations. Dick Rowland was not one of the victims. Somehow, he escaped during the chaos. One might think it impossible to erase an event of this magnitude from historical memory. But Tulsa tried its best. Scott Ellsworth discovered that police reports and National Guard records had been systematically destroyed; other documents were removed from the state archives. News articles were cut out of surviving copies of local newspapers in the University of Tulsa library. Shortly after the violence ended, Ellsworth learned, the city’s police chief ordered his men to confiscate any images of the destruction in the possession of Tulsa’s photography studios. Years passed, and yet Oklahoma history textbooks made no mention of the massacre. A teacher who moved to the city in 1950 was warned on pain of dismissal not to mention the events of 1921 in class.