me, the month of May has the feel of a Black August. Malcolm X was
born on May 19. African Liberation Day is May 25. That's celebratory.
What about May 13 and May 31 when two Black communities were treated
like war enemies and leveled to the ground. Black bodies and Black
futures were collateral damage.
bombs were bursting in the air amidst the red glare. There was no
refuge from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave. It is
proof that anti-black hatred is alive. Tulsa, Oklahoma and
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are on record as the only domestic
bombings in U.S. history. It is no accident that the targets were
Tulsa Massacre took place on May 31 when white mobs responded to a
false claim that a young white woman had been attacked by a Black
teenager. By the time young Dick Rowland was arrested, the tale took
on ugly dimensions. While Rowland escaped a lynching because the KKK
couldn’t get him, the envious Klan took it out on Black Wall
Street. It was nicknamed such because of its educational and
Tulsa Black community courageously defended itself but it wasn't a
fair fight. Over the next couple of days, the homes and businesses in
the Greenwood neighborhood were set ablaze and the finale was air
raids by vigilantes in planes.
Tulsa Massacre is said to be the worst in history although I don't
know how one confirms the deaths when many Black folks ended up in
unmarked graves. We know Greenwood was demolished and the coverup to
bury the truth began. It has taken decades for the truth to be fully
acknowledged although reparations have not been forthcoming.
forward to Philly on May 13, 1985. Sick and tired of dealing with the
naturalist group called MOVE, city officials led by the first African
American mayor, made the sickening decision to bomb the MOVE
compound. The fire from the incendiary could not be contained to a
building. It soon enveloped the entire city block of Osage Avenue,
reducing 61 homes to rubble.
as losing homes were, nothing would surpass the deadly ambush of
human beings fleeing an inferno. There were only two MOVE survivors;
the others 11, including five children, perished.
the Tulsa bombing, the Osage massacre was also shielded from full
public scrutiny and righteous condemnation. That's despite the reach
of television and the advent of cell phones in the 80s.
month, Tulsa is coming face to face with its traumatizing past. This
is the 100th anniversary of the horrific event as we fight to make
Black Lives Matter.
two tragedies could be cause for celebration. Our lives, history and
potential are literally and figuratively buried in time, over time.
Our refusal to submit to white supremacy in all its many forms and
survive a perpetual series of atrocities is a testament to our fierce
determination and enduring resiliency as a people. Celebrate Black