A.J. Smitherman’s Poem: “The Tulsa Race Riot and Massacre”

crusading Tulsa journalist\editor A.J. Smitherman (above) founder of the then Tulsa Star:
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Photo: YouTube

The following descriptive poem of the 1921 Massacre of Black Wall Street called the "Tulsa Race Riot and Massacre" which was written by Black crusading Tulsa journalist\editor  A.J. Smitherman  (above) founder of the then Tulsa Star:

Whence those sounds in all directions

Firearms cracking everywhere;

Men and women all excited,

Cries of rioting fill the air.


Men with guns and ammunition,

Rushing madly to the fray,

Shooting, cursing, laughing, crying,

"Come on, boys, come on this way!"


"They are trying to lynch our comrade,

Without cause in law defi;

Get your guns and help defend him;

Let's protect him, win or die.


'Twas the cry of Negro manhood,

Rallying to the cause of right,

Readying to suppress the lawless,

Anxious for a chance to fight.


So they marched against the mobbists

Gathered now about the jail,

While the sheriff stood there pleading,

Law and order to prevail.


Thus responding to their duty,

Like true soldiers that they were,

Black men face the lawless white men

Under duty's urgent spur.


Cries of "Let us have the nigger"

"Lynch him, kill him" came the shout,

And at once there came an answer

When a sharp report rang out


"Stand back men, there'll be no lynching"

Black men cried, and not in fun

Bang! Bang! Bang! three quick shots followed,

And the battle had begun.


In the fusillade that followed,

Four white lynchers kissed the dust,

Many more fell badly wounded,

Victims of their hellish lust.


Quick they fled in all directions,

Panic stricken, filled with fear,

Leaving their intended victim,

As the news spread far and near.


Scattered now in great confusion

Filled with vengeance all anew

Leaders of the lynching party

Planned for something else to do.


"Blacks prevent a Negro's lynching"

Read a bold newspaper head,

In an extra night edition,

"Fifty Whites reported dead".


Rallied now with reinforcements

Brave (?) white men five thousand strong

Marched upon the Black defenders

With their usual battle song:


"Get the niggers" was their slogan,

"Kill them, burn them, set the pace.

Let them know that we are white men,

Teach them how to keep their place.


"Forward! March! ! command was given,

And the tread of feet was heard,

Marching on the Colored district,

In protest there came no word.


In the meantime rabid hoodlums

Now turned loose without restraint

Helped themselves to things of value

More than useless to complain.


Guns were taken by the hundreds,

Ammunition all in sight

Reign of murder, theft and plunder

Was the order of the night.


But our boys who learned the lesson

On the blood-stained soil of France,

How to fight on the defensive

Purposed not to take a chance.


Like a flash they came together,

Word was passed along the line:

"No white man must cross the border;

Shoot to kill and shoot in time!"


"Ready, Fire!" and then a volley

From the mob whose skins were white

"Give 'em hell, boys", cried the leader,

"Soon we'll put 'em all to flight".


But they got a warm reception

From black men who had no fear,

Who while fighting they were singing:

"Come on Boys, the Gang's all here."


Rapid firing guns were shooting,

Men were falling by the score,

'Till the white men quite defeated

Sent the word "We want no more."


Nine p.m. the trouble started,

Two a.m. the thing was done.

And the victory for the Black men

Counted almost four to one.


Then the white went into council,

Hoping to reprise their loss,

Planned the massacre that followed,

Dared to win at any cost.


June the First, at five a.m.

Three long whistle blasts were heard,

Giving sign for concert action

To that cold blood-thirsty herd.


At the signal from the whistle

Aeroplanes were seen to fly,

Dropping bombs and high explosives,

Hell was falling from the sky.


On all sides the mob had gathered

Talking in excited tones

With machine guns, ready. mounted,

Trained upon a thousand homes.


A.J. Smitherman, like thousands of others saw his home, newspaper business, and life in Tulsa destroyed by the white mob and officials of Tulsa. He eventually made his way to Buffalo, New York where he founded the Buffalo Star newspaper.

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