Reconstructing the Dreamland

Reconstructing the Dreamland : The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation

3.71 (59 ratings by Goodreads)
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The 1921 Tulsa Race Riot was the country's bloodiest civil disturbance of the century. Leaving perhaps 150 dead, 30 city blocks burned to the ground, and more than a thousand families homeless, the riot represented an unprecedented breakdown of the rule of law. It reduced the prosperous black community of Greenwood, Oklahoma, to rubble. In Reconstructing the Dreamland, Alfred Brophy draws on his own extensive research into contemporary accounts and court documents to chronicle this devastating riot, showing how and why the rule of law quickly eroded. Brophy offers a gut-wrenching portrait of mob violence and racism run amok, both on the night of the riot and the morning after, when a coordinated sunrise attack, accompanied by airplanes, stormed through Greenwood, torching and looting the community. Equally important, he shows how the city government and police not only permitted the looting, shootings, and burning of Greenwood, but actively participated in it.
The police department, fearing that Greenwood was erupting into a "negro uprising" (which Brophy shows was not the case), deputized white citizens haphazardly, gave out guns and badges with little background check, or sent men to hardware stores to arm themselves. Likewise, the Tulsa-based units of the National Guard acted unconstitutionally, arresting every black resident they could find, leaving Greenwood property vulnerable to the white mob, special deputies, and police that followed behind and burned it. Brophy's revelations and stark narrative of the events of 1921 bring to life an incidence of racial violence that until recently lay mostly forgotten. Reconstructing the Dreamland concludes with a discussion of reparations for victims of the riot. That case has implications for other reparations movements, including reparations for slavery.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 157.48 x 228.6 x 15.24mm | 272.15g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 9 halftones.7 line illus
  • 0195161033
  • 9780195161038
  • 2,093,939

Review quote

"A timely contribution to a variety of important and contentious discussions involving American history, African American culture, and the problems encountered in attempting to right past wrongs.... Brophy reminds us that deadly, cruel, racial violence is not something that only happens 'out there' in the rest of the world but is something that has also happened here in the United States on a massive scale and that just as others out there have fallen short in
reckoning with their pasts, so too have Americans."-Randall Kennedy, from the Preface "Timely, well documented and powerfully written...vividly illustrates a chapter of America's sordid racist past by focusing on the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. If we are to transcend the barriers to racial progress, we all must read Brophy's compelling work and use it as a seminal case in our path to avoid conflicts at all costs.... Brophy's book is the best-written account of the Tulsa riots, and captures the people of Tulsa's resolve to never allow a similar travesty
to occur again. Every person interested in racial justice should have this book at his or her disposal."-Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Harvard Law School "At once meticulously factual and riveting, Alfred Brophy's moving account of a 1921 race riot that destroyed an economically self-reliant, vibrant African-American community clarifies why political action and enforcement of legal and human rights are indispensable perquisites for black economic opportunity and material progress. Brophy also clarifies why Americans need to find the courage to acknowledge injustices of the recent past and contrive amends to help heal
still-unresolved consequences scarring both victims and perpetrators."-Jane Jacobs "Recovers a largely forgotten history of black activism in one of the grimmest periods of race relations, emphasizing the black militancy of the World War I era and how assertive black demands for racial equality threatened white Tulsans. Linking history with advocacy, Brophy also offers a reasoned defense of reparations for the riot's victims."-Washington Post Book World "Brophy's history of reparations is fascinating."-St. Louis Post Dispatch "Meticulously researched...., A good job of showing how the true history of the riot was whitewashed, and how difficult it has been for white Tulsa-and white America for that matter-to acknowledge its racist past."-San Diego Union Tribune
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About Alfred L. Brophy

Alfred L. Brophy is Professor of Law at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa. An authority on the 1921 riot, he contributed to the report to the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, a body created by the Oklahoma Legislature to investigate the riot and make recommendations for reparations.
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Rating details

59 ratings
3.71 out of 5 stars
5 19% (11)
4 42% (25)
3 32% (19)
2 5% (3)
1 2% (1)
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