The story is loaded with impressions, statements, quotes and beliefs that were read more like they came from a novel than accurate reporting.
Let’s start here: They called it Black Wall Street.
There was no Black Wall Street anywhere. Ever. The use of the term shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Wall Street. However, this kind of error exposes the writer’s grasp of the entire subject.
No doubt Greenwood was home to some banks, some insurance brokers, perhaps even a bucket shop where stocks might be bought and sold. But that’s not equivalent to Wall Street. Wall Street implies investment banks that actually underwrite the stocks that are sold in many venues around the world. Wall Street is where financial products are created. That wasn’t any part of Tulsa. At the time of the riots, mutual funds had not yet been created.
Meanwhile, the accounts of the riots appearing in the 2001 report were gathered from people who were only a few years old at the time of the mayhem. If their accounts reflect anything, it’s what those children were told over the course of their lives. Their memories of the actual events cannot be given much weight. And neither can a lifetime of retellings.
As the writer said, the trouble started like a game of telephone, after one person might have heard a white female scream after a black male might have bumped into her.
If the story can spin out of control in the minutes preceding the start of the chaos, then 80 years spinning it is certain to twist it into who-knows-what.
The “historians” who’ve studied the riot, according to the writer, reached many “conclusions.” But it seems the conclusions — like dropping gasoline bombs from airplanes — merely satisfy the writer’s desire for a compelling narrative rather than revealing facts. Kind of like the silliness of the Obama birther crackpots and the 9/11 truthers. All nonsense, but they generate piles of verbiage to support their delusions.