Written by Nicole Pyles
I first heard about the Tulsa Race Massacre thanks to the author of this book. And it’s embarrassing to even admit that, actually. For 18 hours, starting May 31st through June 1st, a white mob attacked residents, homes, and businesses in the Black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Author Sioux Roslawski has written a middle-grade fiction book entitled Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story, about a young 12-year-old Henry Simmons, whose life changes that historical night. I was so honored to read this book and I can’t wait to share it with you.
About Greenwood Gone
Greenwood District, Oklahoma, 1921: Twelve-year-old Henry Simmons has lived his entire life in Greenwood, Oklahoma, a district in the northern part of Tulsa. He’s loved by his parents and neighbors, annoyed by his little sister, and protected by his community, a neighborhood full of hard-working, successful Black people like his mama and daddy. People call Greenwood “Black Wall Street,” and Henry plans to grow up there until he becomes a famous writer or baseball player-or both.
Sure, he sees racism firsthand when he goes with his daddy to “White Tulsa.” But for most of his life, as long as his friends and neighbors stay in Greenwood, the White folks of Tulsa don’t cause too much trouble in Henry’s life.
Until May 31, 1921.
That’s the night Henry’s life changed forever. His family’s life changed forever. All the neighborhoods of Greenwood changed forever-because 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a Black shoeshiner working in Tulsa, is accused of assaulting a White female elevator operator. That accusation and Dick’s arrest turn into twelve hours of terror for Greenwood residents. And Henry and his family are right in the middle of the chaos, hate, and massacre.
For these twelve hours, Henry, his mother, and his younger sister Livvie watch White men and women destroy their neighborhood while they miss Daddy, who went to help protect Dick at the courthouse. Sometimes, Henry, Mama, and Livvie hide; sometimes, they flee; and always, they are shocked by the terrifying behavior of their fellow human beings.
Read Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story for Henry’s account of one of the most horrific massacres in U.S. history-all because of hatred and racism. Can love win even a small victory in the face of hate? Henry will find out.
My Review of Greenwood Gone
This book starts on the day of the massacre, and all Henry is thinking of is playing baseball, doing things for his mom, taking care of his little sister, and the everyday things of life. Yet, it all changes. He finds out through his father that a nineteen year old, Dick Rowland, is accused of assaulting a female, and when the sheriff refuses to hand the young Black man over to the angry white crowd, things escalate quickly.
The author has a beautiful way of balancing the very true, real history of the moment while depicting the voice of a young boy seeing everything and everyone he loves threatened, robbed, and so much worse.
This book is an excellent novel to introduce to young children, and have a much needed discussion afterwards about the impact of this book.
The author will be donating her proceeds from the book to the residents of Greenwood. The publisher will also be making regular donations from the proceeds of the book.
Make sure you add this book to your reading list on GoodReads, or purchase it now on Amazon.com. Don’t miss more updates from the author herself by following her blog: https://siouxspage.blogspot.com/
More from Nicole Pyles:
Read my writing blog, World of My Imagination and
Share your unemployment story at LadyUnemployed.com.
Ask me about blog tours with WOW! Women on Writing.