Tulsa Race Massacre: The truth about Sarah Page and Dick Rowland’s relationship

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In the over 100 years since the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, rumors and myths have persisted about the nature of the relationship between Sarah Page and Dick Rowland. The elevator operator and the young man who accidentally stepped on her foot were rumored to have been romantically involved prior to the incident at the Drexel building, a story that has persisted for over a century.

The source of the claim is Damie Rowland, a relative of Dick Rowland, who gave an interview years after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and suggested the two had a romantic relationship. Ms. Rowland was like a mother to Mr. Rowland, and she may have posited the information in order to protect his legacy and memory. 

Yet the truth is much less salacious. While the woman known as “Sarie” Page was single at the time of the incident, there is little to no evidence suggesting that Ms. Page and Mr. Rowland were involved in any capacity, romantically or otherwise. 

1921 tulsa race massacre zine oklahoma

A scene from the first episode of The Watchmen depicting the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

No evidence to confirm relationship between Sarah Page and Dick Rowland

In her statements to the police, Sarah Page never mentioned any relationship with Dick Rowland — and also didn’t claim that he attacked her, as is the longest-running myth surrounding the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. According to Sarah Page’s neighbor, she lived at least 10 blocks from Mr. Rowland, another fact that does not support claims the two cohabitated at any time. 

Mr. Rowland, for his part, lived in a family-run rooming house on Archer. The young man had no encounters with the police prior to the elevator incident, but his accidental trip in the elevator at the Drexel Building set the police on a manhunt that ended with hundreds of Black men, women, and children murdered. 

While the public is not aware of what Sarah Page said in grand jury testimony after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, there is no evidence to suggest that she made any claims of an entanglement with Mr. Rowland. According to historian Randy Hopkins, both Sarah Page and Dick Rowland described the elevator event as a “road rage” type of incident, with Sarah Page hitting Dick Rowland with her purse after Mr. Rowland tripped in the elevator. 

Soon after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Sarah Page became involved with Fred Voorhies, and the two married and left Tulsa. Over the course of her life, Sarah Page never publicly commented on Dick Rowland nor the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. 

This is part three of an investigative report into the events surrounding the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The Black Wall Street Times thanks author and historian Randy Hopkins for providing his data and research, and the Center for Public Secrets for continuing to provide the public with the truth about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. 

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