AP Photo/Nick Wass
Philadelphia 76ers guard George Hill criticized the construction on Black Wall Street sites that were ravaged by the 1921 Tulsa Massacre in an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.
Hill likened building on the area to construction at the site of the World Trade Center:
“They pretty much burned the whole Black Wall Street down and take over their land and then sell it to a university like Oklahoma State University, or sell it to minor league baseball team, that L.A. Dodgers affiliate, to put those things right in the center of where history was. And to put a highway straight through the main street of Black Wall Street was just mind-boggling to me.
“You wouldn’t take the site of the World Trade Center and build a stadium on top of that. You wouldn’t take things that are big focal points in this world and just sell it to build other stuff on and not remember what those things were. That’s what monuments are about. So for me, why wasn’t that saved? Why isn’t that talked about more? Why isn’t that shared, especially for our youth? Our African American kids need to know what Black Wall Street was all about.”
The Tulsa Massacre took place 100 years ago Monday after Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old Black man, was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, a white 17-year-old. Rowland’s arrest led to several white mobs burning buildings and killing residents of the Greenwood District in Tulsa. At the time, the Greenwood District was a booming part of the city that featured several Black-owned businesses, along with churches and hospitals—earning the name Black Wall Street.
The riots, known as the “single worst incident of racial violence in American history,” led to the destruction of the businesses, the death of an estimated 300 Black people and the displacement of thousands of Black residents.
The area never recovered its former vibrance, with the Vernon A.M.E. Church being the only building from 1921 still standing. While some businesses are commemorated at the site, it has largely been overrun by new businesses in the area—many of which are white-owned—and has been bisected by a freeway.
Despite the significance of the attacks, most public schools around the country do not teach children about the Tulsa Massacre.
“I was a little distraught when I first learned about it,” Hill said. “You hear about everything else that happened. The first thing you think about is, ‘Why don’t they tell us about this? Why isn’t this part of history when everything else is?’ And I don’t take away the history of 9/11 or anything like that, but this is one of the first major massacres in [American] history. And for it to not be anywhere in any history book is just a slap to the culture’s face, but also a slap to history.”
Hill told Spears he made it a point to visit Greenwood and learn more about the history of Black Wall Street while he was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Hill said he made the short trip to Tulsa in late February, a few weeks before being traded to the Sixers after just a few months with the Thunder, who he joined after two seasons in Milwaukee.