Dubbed America's "Black Wall Street" by Booker T. Washington, the 35-block Greenwood District, Tulsa’s African American community, became a prosperous center for black commerce in the early 1900s, housing more than 300 black-owned businesses including hotels, theaters, restaurants and much more.
But in less than 24 hours the prosperity of the area darkened, forever changing the thriving landscape of the Greenwood District. On May 30, 1921, an elevator encounter between two teenagers, one black, the other white, lit the fuse that set the neighborhood alight. Dick Rowland’s alleged assault of Sarah Page triggered unprecedented civil unrest. Fueled by sensational reporting, jealousy over black economic success and a racially hostile climate in general, mob rule held sway.