“A Descriptive Poem of the Tulsa Race Riot and Massacre” by A.J. Smitherman

This pamphlet was apparently authored and published by A.J. Smitherman, exactly when is not clear. From its placement in the NAACP extradition file on Smitherman, I’d estimate early 1922.




Smitherman Family

The above is a family group picture of A.J. Smitherman, former editor and publisher of the Tulsa Star. His plant, valued at more than $40,000.00, and his home were destroyed in the massacre of June 1, 1921, he and his family miraculously escaping with their lives.

The Tulsa Race Riot and Massacre

Whence those sounds in all directions
Firearms cracking everywhere;
Men and women all excited,
Cries of rioting fill the air.

Men with guns and ammunition,
Rushing madly to the fray,
Shooting, cursing, laughing, crying,
“Come on, boys, come on this way!”

“They are trying to lynch our comrade,
Without cause in law defi;
Get your guns and help defend him;
Let’s protect him, win or die.

‘Twas the cry of Negro manhood,
Rallying to the cause of right,
Readying to suppress the lawless,
Anxious for a chance to fight.

So they marched against the mobbists
Gathered now about the jail,
While the sheriff stood there pleading,
Law and order to prevail.

Thus responding to their duty,
Like true soldiers that they were,
Black men face the lawless white men
Under duty’s urgent spur.

Cries of “Let us have the nigger”
“Lynch him, kill him” came the shout,
And at once there came an answer
When a sharp report rang out.

“Stand back men, there’ll be no lynching”
Black men cried, and not in fun
Bang! Bang! Bang! three quick shots followed,
And the battle had begun.

In the fusillade that followed,
Four white lynchers kissed the dust,
Many more fell badly wounded,
Victims of their hellish lust.

Quick they fled in all directions,
Panic stricken, filled with fear,
Leaving their intended victim,
As the news spread far and near.

Scattered now in great confusion
Filled with vengeance all anew
Leaders of the lynching party
Planned for something else to do.

Blacks prevent a Negro’s lynching”
Read a bold newspaper head,
In an extra night edition,
“Fifty Whites reported dead”.

Rallied now with reinforcements
Brave (?) white men five thousand strong
Marched upon the Black defenders
With their usual battle song:

“Get the niggers” was their slogan,
“Kill them, burn them, set the pace.
Let them know that we are white men,
Teach them how to keep their place.

“Forward! March! ! command was given,
And the tread of feet was heard,
Marching on the Colored district,
In protest there came no word.

In the meantime rabid hoodlums
Now turned loose without restraint
Helped themselves to things of value
More than useless to complain.

Guns were taken by the hundreds,
Ammunition all in sight
Reign of murder, theft and plunder
Was the order of the night.

But our boys who learned the lesson
On the blood-stained soil of France,
How to fight on the defensive
Purposed not to take a chance.

Like a flash they came together,
Word was passed along the line:
“No white man must cross the border;
Shoot to kill and shoot in time!”

“Ready, Fire!” and then a volley
From the mob whose skins were white
“Give  ’em hell, boys”, cried the leader,
“Soon we’ll put ’em all to flight”.

But they got a warm reception
From black men who had no fear,
Who while fighting they were singing:
“Come on Boys, the Gang’s all here.”

Rapid firing guns were shooting,
Men were falling by the score,
‘Till the white men quite defeated
Sent the word “We want no more.”

Nine p.m. the trouble started,
Two a.m. the thing was done.
And the victory for the black men
Counted almost four to one.

Then the white went into council,
Hoping to reprise their loss,
Planned the massacre that followed,
Dared to win at any cost.

June the First, at five a.m.
Three long whistle blasts were heard,
Giving sign for concert action
To that cold blood-thirsty herd.

At the signal from the whistle
Aeroplanes were seen to fly,
Dropping bombs and high explosives,
Hell was falling from the sky.

On all sides the mob had gathered
Talking in excited tones
With machine guns, ready. mounted,
Trained upon a thousand homes.

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