When Dick Rowland dashed into the elevator, he tripped. But grabbing the white woman’s arm to steady himself was a drastic mistake – that would be punished in the most egregious way.
She screamed, and a store clerk who “witnessed” the incident called the police. Then all hell broke loose.
Within 24 hours, a devious lie spread throughout Tulsa, OK that a white woman had been RAPED by a Black man. Though he maintained his innocence, Rowland was taken into custody. But this was far from the end.
That next morning, angry whites gathered for a lynching, but elite Black residents also showed up to protect Rowland. This incited the whites, and they began attacking Black people and burning their houses and businesses.
Meanwhile, Rowland resisted pressure by the police to admit guilt, instead maintaining his self-respect. But that didn’t stop the mob.
This accusation led to the terrible 1921 Tulsa Massacre, which many knew was an excuse by poor, bitter whites to destroy the livelihoods of Blacks, especially the Freedmen who’d received land allotments from the government. But what happened to Rowland? He was released four months later – innocent!
White jealousy and hatred can cause chaos – but it’s not worth losing our self-respect. We know the truth!