John Hope Franklin is dead, but he had a great run, against considerable odds. Franklin’s story is the antithesis of that of my redneck relatives. He was born in a small segregated town in Oklahoma, and was very lucky to have a prominent lawyer for a father and a schoolteacher for a mother. Well, lucky if you live. You see, most non-rednecks don’t get this, but rednecks killed black people, especially prominent black people, with great frequency. Franklin’s father sought better pastures in Tulsa, only at a really bad time–when Tulsa’s white Christian population was massacring African Americans in the “race riots” of 1921. Not a good time to move your law practice, or your young family. You see, I have family who participated in those riots, I’ve heard the stories at family reunions. Not the Iranians, of course. Sherkat’s are civilized.
Franklin’s account of his father’s ordeal is chilling, especially if you know anything about the bloodthirsty redneck mobs that were killing people right and left. Jesus fuck, what they would do to a black guy in a suit. The targets were primarily prominent businessmen and women. What used to be “the black Wall Street” at Greenwood, Archer, and Pine, was reduced to rubble. The property of nearly every African American in Tulsa was destroyed, leaving around 10,000 people homeless and fleeing for their lives to Kansas City and other places where they hoped to find refuge. At least 400 and maybe upwards of 1,000 African Americans lost their lives. Tulsa was never the same. And rednecks loved that! No more uppity black people! They didn’t call them black people, of course. They called them niggers. And, anyone with any sympathy for a black person killed, beaten, widowed, or whose children or relatives were killed or maimed was a nigger lover. Nobody in my family was a nigger lover, until my mother married an Iranian.
I’m glad Franklin lived to see Obama elected President.