Tulsa Race Riots (May 31-June 1, 1921)
Believed to be the single worst incident of racial violence in American history, the bloody 1921 Tulsa race riot has continued to haunt Oklahomans to the present day. The spark: When a Black shoe shine man, Dick Rowland, apparently stepped on the foot of Sarah Page, a white elevator operator, when he stepped on the elevator, causing her to scream, the Tulsa Tribune the next day erroneously reported that he had attempted to rape her. When a white mob tried to disarm of group of 75 Black men, including World War I vets, a shot was fired and the riot had begun. The angry white mob, ultimately destroyed more than one thousand homes and businesses in the Greenwood community, according to the Oklahoma State University library. Death toll: Credible estimates of riot deaths range from 50 to 300.
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1967 Detroit Riot (July 23, 1967)
The spark: Police raided an unlicensed, after-hours bar on the city’s Near West Side, getting into confrontations with patrons and observers on the street. Things soon escalated into a full-fledged riot, lasting five days. Death toll: 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed.