Fifteen Faits Divers on the Tulsa Race Riot

by Brian Ted Jones

05/23/2013

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A faits divers is a short news item, usually about three lines; they’re often stories of strange murders or bizarre accidental deaths. The form originated in French newspapers, reaching its peak in Novels in Three Lines by Félix Fénéon; writers as diverse and eminent as Flaubert, Camus, and Barthes also worked in the medium. Recently, the American writer Teju Cole published on his Twitter account a series of faits divers(he called them “small fates”), inspired by the crime reports of his parents’ home country, Nigeria.

For this issue, here are fifteen Faits Divers based on stories in Morning Tulsa Daily World, from June 2, 3, and 4, 1921.


An old man disguised himself as a woman, dressing in his wife’s kimona, skirt, and hat, so he could escape a mob of whites.

—June 4, 1921

Dr. A.C. Jackson, one of the foremost surgeons in the southwest, was killed while running out of his house, which was on fire.

—June 2, 1921

Barney Cleaver, “negro deputy sheriff,” named Will Robinson, “dope peddler and all around bad negro,” as leader of the insurrectionists.

—June 3, 1921

“A strenuous day in many a Tulsa home” as society women found it necessary to cook their own meals for the first time in years.

—June 2, 1921

The Red Cross advised that “relatives of Tulsa negroes, other negroes” needed to stay away from town, until after the emergency.

—June 4, 1921

Walter Daggs was struck by a bullet in the back of the head while running down Boulder Avenue toward Seventh Street.

—June 2, 1921

C.B. Rogers, lawyer, argued before the board of control that every person of any color who joined in the rioting should have been killed.

—June 3, 1921

Reports from the ice companies indicate there is no danger of an ice famine, as most of the help employed is white.

—June 2, 1921

With so much to be done, and to prevent idleness and crime, Mayor Evans issued a “work or go to jail” order, to all the city’s menfolk.

—June 4, 1921

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faits divers is a short news item, usually about three lines; they’re often stories of strange murders or bizarre accidental deaths. The form originated in French newspapers, reaching its peak in Novels in Three Lines by Félix Fénéon; writers as diverse and eminent as Flaubert, Camus, and Barthes also worked in the medium. Recently, the American writer Teju Cole published on his Twitter account a series of faits divers(he called them “small fates”), inspired by the crime reports of his parents’ home country, Nigeria.

For this issue, here are fifteen Faits Divers based on stories in Morning Tulsa Daily World, from June 2, 3, and 4, 1921.


John Wheeler was killed on his way into work Wednesday morning. He was a porter at the First National Bank, and had been for over ten years.

—June 2, 1921

L.J. Martin, chairman of the board of control, said that as a result of the riot, Tulsa will be one of the best-governed cities in America.

—June 4, 1921

In Maple Ridge and Sunset Park, many women were imposed on to put out their own family’s wash.

—June 2, 1921

The registration of deeds was halted when authorities learned that whites were making lowball offers to owners of property in Little Africa.

—June 4, 1921

Homer Cline, aged 16, was shot twice through the stomach during the fighting on Tuesday night.

—June 2, 1921

At the Boston Avenue M.E. Church, both Reverend L.S. Barton (morning service), and Bishop E.D. Mouzon (evening), preached on the riot.

—June 4, 1921


Printed in This Land, Vol. 4, Issue 9. May 1, 2013.

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