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poetry Kristallnacht in Tulsa

Mississippi poet Philip Kolin depicts the crushing of the Black community in Tulsa, OK one century ago.

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Kristallnacht in Tulsa

By Philip C. Kolin

           The destruction of Black Wall Street,

            the Greenwood section of Tulsa,
                  June 1, 1921

40 square blocks of black banks, schools, hospitals,

churches, museums, a theatre named

Dreamland, the capital of Black Wall Street

that had never suffered a crash before

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until deputized vandals for over 18 smashing hours

into the night blitzkreiged this black paradise

with torches, firearms, milk bottle bombs, planes spreading

flames. They burned books, buildings, shattered

glass everywhere. Under grieving, fractured stars

black men, broken men, were marched off

to camps, their memories confiscated, segregated,

forbidden to publicize what happened.

There were no windows left in Greenwood

because there was too much to see.

Philip C. Kolin, Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at the Univ. of Southern Mississippi, has published twelve collections of poems, the most recent being Emmett Till in Different States, Delta Tears, and Americorona: Poems about the Pandemic.