Greenwood Avenue was populated by successful African American families, businesses, hospitals and churches. All this would change on May 31. A young black man was accused of attempting to rape a white woman in a Tulsa elevator. Later, a rumor flew through the community that a lynch party was forming. Several young black men formed a defense party. At the courthouse they encountered a group of white men. Strong words (and some say bullets) were let loose. A pitched gun battle began right there on the spot. Soon, the white rioters forgot about their immediate targets and concentrated on looting and burning Greenwood Avenue. The mayor had to call in the National Guard from Oklahoma City to end the violence. In the aftermath, dozens of people, black and white, were dead. The exact body count is still unknown. Greenwood Avenue was completely gone; burned to the ground. Fortunately, many residents refused to be scared away by the riots, and rebuilt the neighborhood. The scars from the ordeal, however, haunt many African American residents of Tulsa to this day.
The name "The Black Wall Street" is adopted from the historical Black community of Tulsa Oklahoma. The date was June 1, 1921, when "Black Wall street," the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving 36-black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering. A model community destroyed, and a major Black economic movement resoundingly defused.