Note: This is the 10th installment of WCBS 880’s Black History Month series. For other articles, click here.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mob violence, government sanctioned with no redress, was a life-defining moment for Dr. Olivia Hooker.

WCBS 880’s Jane Tillman Irving met with the retired Forham University professor last weekend, just a few days before her 100th birthday.

She remembered 1921, when a white mob destroyed the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma — a black business district where her father owned a department store.

The unrest began after a young black man was accused of grabbing the arm of a young white woman.

As militia and national guardsmen fired, her mother’s words were blunt, Hooker recalled.

“That is a machine gun, your country is shooting at you,” she said.

The prosperous black-owned business district was destroyed and some 300 blacks were killed by white mobs in the Tulsa race riot.

Hooker, who went on to become the first black woman to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, looks to World War II-style restitution.

“I would have liked what they did when the Japanese were mistreated in California, at least they got something from the government,” Hooker said.


Leave a Reply