Black Birds in the Sky: The Story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Oct. 2021. 224p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063056664.
Gr 7 Up–After generations of erasure and a concerted effort to cover up history, the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is finally being told in a modern historical context. Following the alleged assault of a white woman by a Black man in an elevator, the thriving Black community of Greenwood, Oklahoma (also known as Black Wall Street), was heaved into violence and destruction when a white mob descended on the town to seek revenge. Colbert recounts the event in detail, piecing together accounts from survivors and news stories, though many newspaper articles were not recovered in full. Colbert dives into the events directly preceding the massacre and gives ample context through the founding of Tulsa, mounting racial tensions in the region and elsewhere, the aftermath of Reconstruction, and the forcible removal of the Muscogee (Creek) people from the land. Her foreword frames her own upbringing in a majority white community and flows into the many historical and cultural factors that led up to the 1921 massacre, emphasizing the point that no one act of violence against a Black community can be viewed as an isolated event. Clear straightforward text, photos, and well-organized storytelling makes this an essential read for teens and adults alike.
VERDICT A must-have first purchase for all libraries; this text invites readers to engage with a difficult history that’s essential in our understanding of today’s world.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing