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Tulsa: First American City to Boot Black Lives Matter Street Art
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By BWSTimes Staff
In the dark early morning hours on Monday, October 5, 2020, the City of Tulsa street workers began scraping from its famed-city street, the message “Black Lives Matter.”
When the sun began peaking into Tulsa’s Greenwood District, dubbed Black Wall Street by the honorable Booker T. Washington, the bright yellow street mural that attracted thousands to the historic Black-owned area — which boasted 36-blocks of America’s most promising Black ecosystem — was gone as if it had never existed.
Like a Whites Only pool drained and bleached in the ’50s after a few Black children played innocently in it, the City of Tulsa exerted its ultimate white supremacist clap back by following “the law.” The action of the City is, without a doubt, anti-Black.
But Tulsa, Oklahoma, has a history of anti-Blackness. Its state’s first law was Senate Bill Number One: the law of segregation in 1906. Without an apology, White elected officials mapped out their plans to keep Black Oklahomans under the knees of White authority and vowed to control the narrative in White-owned and managed newspapers.
Black Press vigorously tried battling the forces of segregationist but were unsuccessful at penetrating “pro-southern sentiment that had taken root” in the Oklahoma territory. And today, those sentiments continue to linger as White Tulsans called for removing the Black Lives Matter mural since it was first painted on Greenwood Ave ahead of Trump’s first campaign rally for reelection in June.
The City’s removal of the Black Lives Matter mural comes less than a year shy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commemoration that recognizes the horrific atrocities by White Tulsans against the Black residents of Greenwood from May 31 to June 1 in 1921.
The editor in chief of The Black Wall Street Times, Nehemiah Frank, wrote in TIME Magazine that “In one night the neighborhood was pillaged and set ablaze, its people massacred…When the ashes settled and the smoke cleared, charred bodies littered the streets of a ruined community that seemed nearly impossible to rebuild in the shadow of the Jim Crow era. According to a state-commissioned report released in 2001, upwards of 300 people are thought to have died during the massacre.”
The famous Black Wall Street, the nightmare of the massacre, was reincarnated via the hit series “Watchmen” in the fall of 2019 — the same street where the Black Lives Matter mural was removed by Tulsa City Councilors and Tulsa City Mayor GT Bynum.
The Greenwood Community is planning a massive protest on Saturday, October 10, 2020, with partnering social justice organizations from across the city, state and nation to rally against the City of Tulsa’s erasure of the Black Lives Matter messaging and to counter a Back The Blue protest — masked as a “Faith & ‘Blue’ Prayer March”.
Notably, Black city leaders and Black Tulsans, part of the local Black Lives Matter movement, have clearly stated multiple times that they are not anti-police but are merely advocating for equal treatment from law enforcement officers.