Charlie Wilson of The Gap Band set the record straight: The lyrics in the song “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” were not written in reference to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
On Tuesday, ABC Audio released the debut episode of a new podcast (“Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth”) about the race massacre. During the podcast, written and hosted by ABC News senior national correspondent Steve Osunsami, Wilson tackles the rumor that “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” a hit for the Tulsa-based band in 1982, has a connection to the race massacre.
There’s a geographical connection in that Wilson and his brothers (Ronnie and Robert) in the band grew up a few blocks from the Greenwood District, the Black neighborhood destroyed in the massacre. But Wilson, who wrote the song, said in the podcast that the only bomb the song refers to is “one made of love.”
Regardless, Wilson said the rumors about the song have brought attention to the events of 1921, so he is happy about that.
The Gap Band culled its name from names of Tulsa streets — Greenwood, Archer and Pine. During the podcast, Wilson said he shared the story of the brothers’ neighborhood and the massacre many times while touring. “People were just kinda lookin’ at us like, ‘Are you sure? I’ve never heard this story before.’”
Wilson said he gained knowledge of what happened in 1921 because Lucille Figures, a survivor, was like a grandmother to him. She was 12 when the massacre occurred. Wilson said when she finally shared details with him, she made him vow to keep it quiet.
“She told me a lot of things,” Wilson said in the podcast. “But she made me promise, ‘Don’t ever speak about what I told you until I’m gone.’”
Figures died in 2013 at age 104.
Wilson wants to help solidify the rightful place of Greenwood — Black Wall Street — in American history books. He’s of the opinion that better late than never, but the story needs to be told.
Wilson said he loves his hometown, and when touring, he’s proud to say he’s from Tulsa. For more, go to this link.
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