O. B. Mann (18xx-19xx)

This tall, brave Greenwood grocer epitomized the younger black Tulsa leader and World War 1 veteran who, having fought for his own country and receiving non-Jim Crow-like respect from the whites of other countries in Europe, refused to back down from white opposition in the lead up to the Tulsa Race War, whether it be citizens, lawmen or soldiers. Tim Madigan recounts Mann’s exploits in The Burning, including his electrifying call to arms in the Dreamland Theater just prior to the explosion of violence, and his apparent one-on-one struggle with an old white man that triggered that explosion.


Mann fought hard throughout the conflagration, was wounded, but escaped Tulsa. He later returned and grew wealthy with his brother and their reconstituted grocery store, though bitterness filled him till his death from cancer two decades later. He remains a compelling and controversial figure.


“This boy came back from France with exaggerated ideas about equality and thinking he can whip the world,” African American Greenwood co-founder O. A. Gurley said of him. “They started the trouble and this fellow Mann fired the first shot. They brought calamity on us.”

 

The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book

Oklahomans Vol 2 :

Statehood - 2020s

which can be purchased HERE.

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