Tuesday, February 1, 2022

UNSPEAKABLE: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Floyd Cooper.  Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, 2021. 32p. ISBN 978-154158120-3 hc. $17.99   Gr. 2-5   J 976.686

Even though this remarkable tale begins with, "once upon a time," it is a true story buried in time.  The community of Greenwood, on the edge of Tulsa, Oklahoma was divided by train tracks into a white section and a black district.  The black community had a thriving economy from long-term oil investments and was nicknamed the "Negro Wall Street of America," providing good jobs for families and good education for their children.  A single incident between a black worker and a white elevator operator brought both communities to blows on May 31, 1921.  Enraged white citizens raided and burned businesses and homes, killing blacks along the way.  The National Guard arrived the following day and moved homeless residents into camps until they could rebuild or move on.  This incident was swept under the rug for 75 years before it was investigated or made known to the American public.  Most readers are just learning of it recently, as the number of publications on the subject has swelled to commemorate its 100th anniversary.  The Author's Note and Illustrator's Note provide further insight into this tragedy. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

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