In the spring of 1921, two middle-class black communities in the southern Great Plains were attacked in very different ways. One resisted while the other acquiesced. Both were essentially destroyed. This article places these two events alongside one another in an attempt to understand why white supremacists targeted their black neighbors in such different ways, why various approaches to resistance were taken, and how historical memory has been shaped to justify or minimize the decisions made by social actors almost a century ago. Findings reveal long-standing cultural traditions influenced the choices of white aggressors while black resisters were more directly influenced by the nature of the oppression faced. By comparing one of the most sensational and increasingly well-known instances of violence in the southern Great Plains—the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921—to one of the most mundane and least recognized acts of civic violence—the relocation of Quakertown in Denton, Texas, in that same year—this work shows the variety of tactics available to white supremacists in the early twentieth century, considers the complex dynamics of power and resistance, and examines how white authorities continue to exercise privilege in the construction of local histories of racist oppression.


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pp. 159-177
Launched on MUSE
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