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Fire in the night: Battle between black and white Tulsans played out along Detroit Avenue
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Fire in the night: Battle between black and white Tulsans played out along Detroit Avenue

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By shortly after midnight, African Americans and whites were exchanging gunfire across the Frisco railroad tracks and along Detroit Avenue north to Sunset Hill — the boundary between Black and white Tulsa.

Col. L.J.F. Rooney, commanding the local National Guard units, deployed 30 members of his only rifle company to Detroit Avenue, where most of the best Black-owned homes faced white homes across the street. The soldiers took with them a decrepit machine gun, probably a World War I souvenir, “turned up” by Major Charles Daley. The gun seems to have been inoperable, but was loaded on the back of the supply company’s truck and driven up and down the street for show.

By 2 a.m., whites had set fire to one or two buildings north of the Frisco tracks. When firefighters arrived, they were chased off by “500 white men.” It was a portent of things to come.

Randy Krehbiel

918-581-8365

randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @rkrehbiel

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