In August of 1920, just 9 months before the infamous Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, the class divisions in Tulsa were starting to reach a fever pitch. After the end of World War 1, the streets of Tulsa were awash in oil money and the wealthy and powerful of the day were hellbent on retaining their power over the day laborers that worked in the fields. One way they did that was to declare a “war on crime” in the city that specifically targeted at vagrants and the unemployed.
On the same day the 1920 “war on crime” was announced, a cab driver name Homer Nida was brutally assaulted and left for dead. The media firestorm that followed whipped the city into a frenzy and a young man named Roy Belton was arrested for the crime. After a series of suspicious events, Belton was hastily given over by the police to a large and angry mob and publicly lynched. Our guest today is Randy Hopkins, a lawyer, and historian who has written a series of stories for The Chronicles of Oklahoma and the Center for Public Secrets. Hopkins discusses his account of the Bleton lynching from his recent article “Racing to the Precipice: Tulsa’a Last Lynching”
Our host is Michael Mason.
This podcast is presented by the Center for Public Secrets, a non-profit sub-cultural institution dedicated to uncovering the hidden and neglected history of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and beyond.
To learn more, visit our website at www.centerforpublicsecrets.org.
This episode was produced, mixed, and edited by Scott Bell. Our executive producers are Whitney Chapman and Stuart Hetherwood. The podcast art was made by Well-Told.