Tulsa Race Riot Eyewitness Recalls Fire as Community Burned

Jul 10, 2018

Credit File Photo

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (AP) — One of the last surviving eyewitnesses to the Tulsa Race Riot still recalls the glow of a massive fire that lit the horizon as a community known as "Black Wall Street" burned.

Wavel Ashbaugh, who turned 108 Sunday, was 11 when her Oklahoma hometown was ripped apart in 1921 by some of the worst racial violence in U.S. history. The Tulsa World reports Ashbaugh watched her mother help a black husband and wife hide from National Guard troops for safety.

Ashbaugh is part of the Perryman family that came to the then-Indian Territory with the Creek Nation in the 1820s and helped found Tulsa.

Bloodshed started in May 1921 after a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman. The number of slayings varies from three dozen to 300.