TULSA, Okla. – The last known survivor of one of Oklahoma’s darkest days has passed away at the age of 103.
The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma was once called the “Black Wall Street,” a 35-block radius in the segregated community thriving with hundreds of businesses.
But, on June 1, 1921, the entire area was burned down as a result of a riot that began after a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman.
White residents attacked the community, killing hundreds of black residents and injuring 800 others.
At the time, Olivia Hooker was just 6-years-old when her entire neighborhood was decimated in the chaos.
According to NPR, Hooker’s mother hid her and her three siblings under the dining room table as a group of white men came through their backyard with torches.
“It was horrifying thing for a little girl who’s only 6-years-old, trying to remember to keep quiet, so they wouldn’t know we were there,” she told Radio Diaries.
The men ended up destroying everything of value inside the family’s home.
After the riots, Hooker’s family moved away from the Sooner State. She ultimately became the first African-American woman to join the U.S. Coast Guard.
However, she never forgot what she saw that day in 1921.
“Our parents tried to tell us, don’t spend your time agonizing over the past,” she said. “They encouraged us to look forward and think how we could make things better.”
She helped form the Tulsa Race Riot Commission in 1997 to investigate the massacre and make a case for reparations.
“For decades, Oklahoma schools did not talk about it. In fact, newspapers didn’t even print any information about the Tulsa Race Riot. It was completely ignored. It was one of those horrible events that everyone wanted to just sweep up the rug and ignore,” U.S. Senator James Lankford said.
On Wednesday, News 4 learned that that Dr. Hooker passed away at the age of 103-years-old.
Family friends say Hooker will be buried in New York.
The @USCG has learned of the passing of Dr. Olivia Hooker. She was one of the first African Americans in the SPAR’s and was a pioneer for women in the service. We send our condolences to her friends and family. To read more about her legacy: https://t.co/et284IgQuf pic.twitter.com/whEyX1vjO8
— USCG_Tri_State (@USCG_Tri_State) November 21, 2018
On behalf of the men and women of the #USCG, we extend our sincere condolences to the family of Dr. Olivia Hooker, who passed away today at 103. In 1945, she was the first African-American female to enlist in the #USCG. Read more about Dr. Hooker's life: https://t.co/akF1GEGE4y https://t.co/5G9vwbc0Cy
— U.S. Coast Guard (@USCG) November 21, 2018