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  • Thumbnail for Divided by the Tracks: Memory of the Tulsa Race Riot
    Divided by the Tracks: Memory of the Tulsa Race Riot by Olsen, Caroline

    This historical essay is meant not only to illustrate the events of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, but also to examine how the memory of the Riot shaped Tulsa’s history and continues to influence the community today. This paper investigates the years leading up to the Riot, the potential causes and what ignited the violence of the Riot, and the years following the event. The conclusion this essays draws is that the Tulsa Race Riot completely shaped the rest of the city of Tulsa’s history, through traumatic events such as the building of Interstate-244 directly through the heart of the black community, and the desegregation of Tulsa Public Schools. In an effort to keep the event as quiet as possible, both out of fear on the African-American side and a desire to keep crimes hidden on the white side, both the white and black communities shaped their own memories of the Riot which are still prevalent today. The African-American narrative has become one of perseverance and courage to overcome adversity, and the white narrative has been overshadowed by attempts to keep the Riot out of discussions and history books. Through interviews with native Tulsans and extensive off and on-site research, “Divided by the Tracks: Memory of the Tulsa Race Riot” delves into the questions of memory, how memories, particularly of traumatic events, are formed, and how these memories are able to shape communities even almost one hundred years after an event.