What Was the Worst Lynching in American History?

Lynching, a form of vigilante justice, was a gruesome reality in America’s history that Targeted African Americans. While the exact number of lynchings is unknown, it is estimated that between 1882 and 1968, at least 4,743 people were lynched in the United States.

One of the most horrific lynchings in American history occurred on May 31, 1921, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event has come to be known as the Tulsa Race Massacre and is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history.

The Background

In the early 20th century, Tulsa was home to a thriving African American community known as Greenwood. Often referred to as “Black Wall Street,” it was one of the most prosperous black communities in America. The community had its own banks, schools, hospitals, and businesses.

On May 30th, 1921, a young black man named Dick Rowland was accused of assaulting a white woman named Sarah Page in an elevator. The next day he was arrested and taken to jail.

The Mob

A white mob gathered outside the courthouse where Rowland was being held, demanding that he be handed over to them. A group of black men showed up at the courthouse armed and ready to protect Rowland but were turned away by local authorities.

The mob grew larger and more violent as they made their way towards Greenwood. In response to this threat, many African Americans also armed themselves for protection.

The Tragedy

On June 1st, the mob descended upon Greenwood with guns blazing and set fire to homes and businesses indiscriminately. The National Guard was called out but instead of protecting the victims they helped the white mob destroy Greenwood. By morning almost every building had been burned down or looted.

The aftermath was devastating with an estimated 300 people dead and over 10,000 left homeless. The exact number of deaths is unknown because many were buried in mass graves and records were lost.

The Aftermath

Although the massacre received national attention at the time, little was done to bring those responsible to justice. The perpetrators were never held accountable for their actions, and the victims were left to rebuild their community from scratch.

It wasn’t until 2020 that Oklahoma officially recognized the massacre, and efforts are being made to educate people about what happened in Tulsa that fateful day.


The Tulsa Race Massacre is a dark chapter in American history that highlights the systemic racism and violence against African Americans. It serves as a reminder of the importance of addressing racial inequality head-on and working towards creating a more just society for all.