This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst race riots in US history that destroyed much of a Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street. Olivia Hooker was 6 years old that day and was hiding under a table when a torch-carrying mob destroyed her home. Hooker died in 2018 at the age of 103 – she was one of the oldest survivors of the massacre. A year before her death, the Post spoke to her about her memories of the devastating night – and the efforts to move forward as a country. « I’ve lived long, but I haven’t lived long enough to see justice, » she said at the time. Here’s a look back at that conversation.
At 102, Olivia Hooker remembers almost everything in her life – names of old friends, important upbringing dates, personal stories of her parents and grandparents.
The White Plains, NY, resident and retired Professor of psychology recalls the date she joined the U.S. Coast Guard on March 8, 1945 – the first African American woman to do so – and the days she did her Masters in Columbia from Ohio State University and received her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. She can remember her retirement from Fordham University when she was 87 years old.
Most vividly, however, she remembers the day the Ku Klux Klan entered the 1921 when she was just 6 years old her home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, came. The mob ravaged the breakfast her mother had prepared for Hooker and her four siblings, took a hatchet to her family’s piano, and destroyed their phonograph and records. « People say, » How do you remember all of this ? « But that kind of experience is in your head for the rest of your life, » she said.
The Tulsa racial riot is believed to be the worst incident of racial violence in American history, killing an estimated 300 African Americans Life came. The massacre still upsets her, but her parents’ advice has since helped her keep her head up. « Our parents taught us, » Don’t waste your time hating, « she said. » Try to come up with something good to reduce the chances of this happening again. «
She said she wasn’t sure why she lived so long even though she didn’t approve of her good Health not to drink or smoke.
Hooker smiles quickly as she looks over her living room wall, which serves as a museum for photos of her with former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, proclamations from cities and awards for volunteering.
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