Written by: Barry P. Foley
Copyright @ 20 Feb 2022
Hi, this is Barry P. Foley. I call this track Reflections, as I reflect back on what inspired me to make the album Burning Of Tulsa.
Before May 2021, I didn’t know the dark history of the Tulsa Race Massacre. It’s not taught in the American Education System. Especially not in the former Confederate State of Virginia. As a White man raised in the Jim Crow era, I had personally witnessed the racism in the South. Up to the 6th grade, our schools were segregated.
Intrigued upon seeing the news report on the 100th anniversary of the Massacre, I began reading books and watching videos to educate myself. After reading most of the first of eight books, I was inspired to write the song, Greenwood. The more I read, the more the events leading up to the Massacre began to fall in place.
In 1917, as World War One was building up, the last thing US Generals wanted was the Negro in his military. But the military needed the bodies. They made racist statements that the Negro was unfit for combat and the Negro soldier could best serve his country with a shovel, not a rifle. The second reason they didn't want the Negro in the military was a great fear that they might begin to feel they were entitled to be treated equally.
The French had pleaded for help, and Gen Pershing didn't want the negro to fight side by side with the white soldiers, so he gave the French the all-Negro 369th Infantry Regiment. Secretly hoping that they would fail, even going as far as telling the French, please do not to treat them with equal respect. Black or white, the French could have cared less as the German's were winning the war, and they needed help.
But the 369 proved that they could fight just like white soldiers and fight they did, with a record 191 days on the frontline. Although the French gave the unit and many of the Negro soldiers their country's highest awards, the Army played down the success of the 369 and ensured that information never made the history books.
But for most Negro Veterans of the war to end all wars, theirs' had just started. The WAR to get the equality that had fought for. What the white establishment had greatly feared came true. Those Negro Veterans were no longer content with being told to step aside and mind your place. When they returned to their hometown, they still faced the same discrimination as years before and not just in the racist South, as the Red Summer proved. In Tulsa, it was the World War One vets who marched to the Courthouse, many wearing their uniforms, offering to protect Dick Rowland.
The more I learned, the more upset I became about the entire situation. I thought back to my days of my youth when I had no genuine respect for civil rights leaders. IF I had known the actual history that they knew, I'm sure I would have felt entirely different. And later on, in the '70s and 80's when I would hear statements like "The White Man Is Just Trying To Keep The Black Man Down," IF I had known the truth, maybe I would have understood that it was all true. The White Establishment throughout the US had done everything it could to keep the Black Man from succeeding and becoming equal.
Fast forward to just the last few years. It's clear it's still happening today. Look at the number of blacks killed by white police or the percentage of those incarcerated. And then it seems like every week; another black man is released from jail after 30 plus years because of crooked police and our justice system.
And now the White Establishment is out in full force again, to ensure truthful American history is forbidden to be taught in schools. I'm sure this album would not be allowed in the libraries of public schools in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi. They’re dead set on not wanting our young people to learn the truth. Heck, they're still teaching 10-year-olds that Columbus discovered America!!
When and where will the lies end.
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