Black birds in the sky : the story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

by Colbert, Brandy,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 5 Libraries 5 of 8 copies
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A searing new work of nonfiction from award-winning author Brandy Colbert about the history and legacy of one of the most deadly and destructive acts of racial violence in American history: the Tulsa Race Massacre.

In the early morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob marched across the train tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and into its predominantly Black Greenwood District--a thriving, affluent neighborhood known as America's Black Wall Street. They brought with them firearms, gasoline, and explosives.

In a few short hours, they'd razed thirty-five square blocks to the ground, leaving hundreds dead. The Tulsa Race Massacre is one of the most devastating acts of racial violence in US history. But how did it come to pass? What exactly happened? And why are the events unknown to so many of us today?

These are the questions that award-winning author Brandy Colbert seeks to answer in this unflinching nonfiction account of the Tulsa Race Massacre. In examining the tension that was brought to a boil by many factors--white resentment of Black economic and political advancement, the resurgence of white supremacist groups, the tone and perspective of the media, and more--a portrait is drawn of an event singular in its devastation, but not in its kind. It is part of a legacy of white violence that can be traced from our country's earliest days through Reconstruction, the Civil Rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, and the fight for justice and accountability Black Americans still face today.

The Tulsa Race Massacre has long failed to fit into the story Americans like to tell themselves about the history of their country. This book, ambitious and intimate in turn, explores the ways in which the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre is the story of America--and by showing us who we are, points to a way forward.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "In recent years, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which resulted in the destruction of Black Wall Street and the thriving Greenwood District in Tulsa, has become a more widely covered and discussed point of U.S. history. This title offers a timely account for young adult readers. While it could have been written as a single, tragic event in an otherwise progressively trending nation, Colbert takes time and care to situate and contextualize the massacre as part of the longstanding history and legacy of racism in America. Beginning with Oklahoma's journey to statehood, moving through Reconstruction, the onset of Jim Crow, and the establishment of Black Wall Street, this book intricately places nuanced quotes and stories of individuals alongside the wider context of a blatantly racist society. Together with the inclusion of primary documents, such as photographs, newspaper headlines and articles, readers are left with a vivid picture that will surely resonate with current events. Colbert writes confidently about the truth of American history that has been long omitted from textbooks and conversations, and there is no mistaking her intention as she presents a case for acknowledging lingering racist ideas, sentiments, and assumptions and for holding ourselves accountable to overturning the harm that racism has caused. Necessary reading for any student of history or for anyone trying to understand our present."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In compassionate but unflinching prose, Colbert (The Only Black Girls in Town) recounts the events of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the intentional and violent destruction of a thriving Black community in Tulsa, Okla., on Memorial Day 1921. Like countless lynchings of Black men that began when a white woman's virtue was thought to be in question, the Tulsa Race Massacre was prompted by an encounter between 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a Black resident of the financially successful, predominantly Black Greenwood District, and white female elevator operator Sarah Page. A fateful, still unclear, misunderstanding led to police intervention, then to a "shameful, completely preventable tragedy, like so many incidents in United States history," reads the book's foreword. Alternating between survivor quotes, a detailed background of Oklahoma and Black chattel slavery, and a stirring account of the disturbing 1921 events, Colbert displays an impeccable grasp of the history of segregated Black towns and communities, such as Tulsa's Greenwood District, and the powder keg of hatred and prejudice that would eventually condemn it. Moreover, this telling of an often-excluded story is powerful in its clarity about "the violent, genocidal foundation of this country" and its continuing effects. Ages 14--up. Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (Oct.)■"
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Additional Information
Subjects Tulsa Race Massacre, Tulsa, Okla., 1921.
African Americans -- Crimes against -- Oklahoma -- Tulsa.
Tulsa (Okla.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
Publisher New York, NY :2021
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description 216 pages : illustrations, map ; 22 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 207-214) and index.
ISBN 9780063056664
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