A new book looks back on the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots and its impact on the community

Posted at 3:21 PM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 22:40:46-05

TULSA - A Tulsa woman's new book looks back on the Tulsa Race Riots and its influence on the city's culture. 

Jennifer Latham is the author of "Dreamland Burning." 

Latham lives in Tulsa and said it was a field trip to the Greenwood Cultural Center as a teacher that encouraged her to write the book. 

 “People don’t know the story of what happened in Tulsa," she said. 

The book takes place with a young woman living Tulsa who finds a skeleton in her home, and a young man still living in 1921, explaining how it got there.

“Being aware of what happened in Tulsa in 1921 helps us understand what’s happening in Tulsa with the shootings of Eric Harris and Terence Crutcher," she said. 

Latham says her book is written on the shoulders of people who came before her, trying to make sure people know this part of Green Country's history.

“The forces that lead to the race riot in 1921 I think are still shaping our city and our national culture today," she said.

According to the plaque at Downtown Tulsa's Reconciliation Park, the story goes as follows: 

A young, black shoe shiner, Dick Rowland was riding in an elevator with the young, white operator Sarah Page. 

A nearby clerk says on the way up, he heard Sarah scream. 

Rowland ended up in jail, and a white lynch mob went to the Tulsa County Courthouse to harm him, while black Tulsans went trying to help him. 

Eventually tensions rose, a gunshot went off, and over the next 24 hours Tulsa's "Black Wall Street" was burned to the ground. 

There aren't solid records of how many people died, but records indicated anywhere from 300 to 1,000 people, according to Latham and the park's monuments. 

Latham is hosting a book signing and discussion Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Greenwood Cultural Center.

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