Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0296
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Full Text of HR0296  103rd General Assembly




HR0296LRB103 32500 MST 62040 r


2    WHEREAS, "Black Wall Street" was a prospering African
3American neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that went up in
4flames 98 years ago; incredibly, most Americans have never
5heard of the shameful events of June 1, 1921, when whites
6firebombed the neighborhood and an estimated 300 African
7Americans were murdered; and
8    WHEREAS, During the course of 18 hours on May 31 and June
91, 1921, more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Tulsa,
10Oklahoma were destroyed, and an estimated number of between 50
11to 300 people were killed during the race bombing; and
12    WHEREAS, By early 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma was a modern city
13with a population of more than 100,000; most of the city's
1410,000 African American residents lived in the Greenwood
15District, a vibrant neighborhood that was home to two
16newspapers, several churches, a library branch, and scores of
17Black-owned businesses; and
18    WHEREAS, On May 30, 1921, an incident involving Dick
19Rowland, an African American shoe shiner, and Sarah Page, a
20white elevator operator, in the Drexel Building in Tulsa would
21rapidly escalate into one of the single worst incidents of
22racial violence in American history; the most common



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1explanation is that Rowland stepped on Page's foot as he
2entered the elevator, causing her to scream, and Rowland was
3arrested by the police; and
4    WHEREAS, On May 30, 1921, the Tulsa Tribune, the city's
5afternoon daily newspaper, reported that Rowland had attempted
6to rape Page; by 7:30 P.M., hundreds of whites had gathered
7outside the Tulsa County Courthouse demanding that the
8authorities hand over Rowland, but the sheriff refused; at
9around 9 P.M., after reports of the dire conditions downtown
10reached Greenwood, a group of approximately 25 armed African
11American men, many of them World War I veterans, went to the
12courthouse and offered their services to the authorities to
13help protect Rowland but were rebuffed by the sheriff; at
14around 10 P.M., a false rumor circulated through Greenwood
15that whites were storming the courthouse, prompting a second
16contingent of African American men to go back to the
17courthouse and offer their services to the authorities, who
18were once again turned away; as the group was leaving, a white
19man tried to disarm a Black veteran, and a shot was fired, an
20incident that became the start of the race bombing; and
21    WHEREAS, Over the next 6 hours, Tulsa was plunged into
22chaos as angry whites, frustrated over the failed lynching,
23began to vent their rage at African Americans in general;
24furious fighting erupted along the Frisco railroad tracks,



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1where Black defenders were able to hold off members of the
2white mob; an unarmed African American man was murdered inside
3a downtown movie theater, while carloads of armed whites began
4making "drive-by" shootings in Black residential
5neighborhoods; by midnight, fires had been set along the edge
6of the African American commercial district; in some of the
7city's all-night cafes, whites began to organize for a dawn
8invasion of Greenwood; and
9    WHEREAS, During the early hours of the race bombing, local
10authorities did little to stem the growing crisis, and Tulsa
11police officers had deputized former members of the lynch mob;
12local units of the National Guard were mobilized, but they
13spent most of the night protecting a white neighborhood from a
14nonexistent Black counterattack; and
15    WHEREAS, Shortly before dawn on June 1, 1921, thousands of
16armed whites had gathered along the fringes of Greenwood;
17after daybreak, they poured into the African American
18district, looting homes and businesses and setting them on
19fire; numerous atrocities occurred, including the murder of A.
20C. Jackson, a renowned Black surgeon, who was shot after he
21surrendered to a group of whites; at least one machine gun was
22utilized by the invading whites, and some have claimed that
23airplanes were used in the attack; Black Tulsans fought hard
24to protect their homes and businesses, with particularly sharp



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1fighting occurring off of Standpipe Hill, but they were
2outgunned and outnumbered in the end; and
3    WHEREAS, Following the race bombing, a brief period of
4martial law was followed by various legal maneuvers; even
5though Dick Rowland was exonerated, an all-white grand jury
6blamed Black Tulsans for the events that transpired; despite
7overwhelming evidence, no whites were ever sent to prison for
8the murders and arson that had occurred; and
9    WHEREAS, The vast majority of Tulsa's African American
10population had been made homeless by the race bombing; despite
11efforts by the white establishment to force the relocation of
12the Black community, Black Tulsans had already begun the long
13and arduous process of rebuilding Greenwood within days;
14thousands were forced to spend the winter of 1921-1922 living
15in tents; and
16    WHEREAS, The deep scars left by the race bombing remained
17visible for years, and it became a taboo subject, particularly
18in Tulsa, for many years; in 1997, a state commission was
19formed to investigate the race bombing; the commission
20recommended that reparations be paid to the remaining
21survivors, while a team of scientists and historians uncovered
22evidence supporting long-held beliefs that unidentified
23victims had been buried in unmarked grave sites; and



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1    WHEREAS, In support of the Black Wall Street efforts, Soul
2City Chicago is hosting a trip to Tulsa to tour the site of one
3of the greatest Black business corridors to ever exist on May
426-28, 2023; and
5    WHEREAS, It is important that the people of the State of
6Illinois and the nation do not forget this terrible tragedy;
7therefore, be it
10we mourn the loss of life and the loss of the Black economy of
11Tulsa, Oklahoma that took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921; and
12be it further
13    RESOLVED, That we support the efforts in Tulsa to have the
14Historic Greenwood District Main Street added to the historic
15registry and are currently working with Executive Director
16Bill White; and be it further
17    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
18presented to the people of Tulsa as an expression of our
19respect and esteem and our desire to support Black businesses
20and communities throughout the nation.