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Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre



by
Carole Boston Weatherford
illustrated by
Floyd Cooper

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Lerner
Imprint
Carolrhoda
ISBN
9781541581203

Awards and Honors
2021 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honoree
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism , Violence: General
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Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation’s history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community. News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.Author’s note and illustrator’s note, with photographs. Full-color illustrations created with oil and erasure.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism , Violence: General

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

32

Trim Size

9 1/4" x 11"

Dewey

976.6

AR

0: points 0

Lexile

1100L

Genre

Nonfic

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

May 2021

Book Genres

Narrative Nonfiction, Picture Books for Older Readers

Topics

Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921. Violence against African Americans. Twentieth-century history of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greenwood (Tulsa, Oklahoma).  Race relations.

Standard MARC Records

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

* "This moving account sheds light on shameful events long suppressed or ignored. All collections should consider this title’s value in providing historical context to current conversations about racism and America’s ongoing legacy of white supremacy."

Horn Book

In 1921, over the course of sixteen hours, the Black community of Greenwood, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was all but destroyed, with most of its residents left homeless, injured, or dead. In picture-book form, Weatherford and Cooper skillfully present this history to young people. Great care is taken to describe the Greenwood community as it once was: known as “Black Wall Street” and home to Black professionals and working-class folk alike, “where some say Black children got a better education than whites.” Small details add to the authenticity of the narrative, such as Miss Mabel’s Little Rose Beauty Salon, where “maids who worked for white families got coiffed on their day off and strutted in style.” Far from romanticizing history, Weatherford is equally descriptive in explaining how a false accusation of assault brought simmering racial tensions to a violent end, with a white mob “looting and burning homes and businesses that Blacks had saved and sacrificed to build.” Many survivors left the area, and those who stayed “did not speak of the terror.” Not until 1997 was the little-known incident investigated and discovered to be not a “riot” but a massacre—abetted by both police and city officials. Cooper’s illustrations (“oil and erasure”) are the perfect partner to this history, the sepia-toned images resembling historical photographs. The portraits of Black residents are particularly moving, seeming to break the fourth wall to implore the reader to remember their story. The author’s and illustrator’s notes provide additional information, including their individual connections to the topic. EBONI NJOKU

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

* "This moving account sheds light on shameful events long suppressed or ignored. All collections should consider this title’s value in providing historical context to current conversations about racism and America’s ongoing legacy of white supremacy."

Horn Book

In 1921, over the course of sixteen hours, the Black community of Greenwood, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was all but destroyed, with most of its residents left homeless, injured, or dead. In picture-book form, Weatherford and Cooper skillfully present this history to young people. Great care is taken to describe the Greenwood community as it once was: known as “Black Wall Street” and home to Black professionals and working-class folk alike, “where some say Black children got a better education than whites.” Small details add to the authenticity of the narrative, such as Miss Mabel’s Little Rose Beauty Salon, where “maids who worked for white families got coiffed on their day off and strutted in style.” Far from romanticizing history, Weatherford is equally descriptive in explaining how a false accusation of assault brought simmering racial tensions to a violent end, with a white mob “looting and burning homes and businesses that Blacks had saved and sacrificed to build.” Many survivors left the area, and those who stayed “did not speak of the terror.” Not until 1997 was the little-known incident investigated and discovered to be not a “riot” but a massacre—abetted by both police and city officials. Cooper’s illustrations (“oil and erasure”) are the perfect partner to this history, the sepia-toned images resembling historical photographs. The portraits of Black residents are particularly moving, seeming to break the fourth wall to implore the reader to remember their story. The author’s and illustrator’s notes provide additional information, including their individual connections to the topic. EBONI NJOKU

Grades 2-6
Nonfiction Elementary Plus
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14 books per Year
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Interests
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