On May 31, 1921, Otis G. Clark was 18 years old. He was also living in the middle of one of the deadliest, racially-motivated events in American history: The Tulsa Race Riots. That night in May, Clark, a Greenwood, Oklahoma native, escaped flying bullets and angry white mobs, only to witness his family home burn down (1 of 1,200 homes that night).
This was the same settlement in which Clark was born, four years before Oklahoma was declared a state. He carried memories of childhood, where he sold vegetables and groceries to the locals (including the home for the ‘ladies of leisure’ in town). But during the riot, those familiar places were no more.
Although the people of Tulsa and surrounding areas kept silent about the details of the race riot for decades, stories of what happened that night eventually made their way to headlines. Rumors spread to the local authorities that a black man touched a white female elevator operator inappropriately. Anyone was given deputy rights and white mobs looked for street justice in the form of a small war on blacks in Greenwood.
Clark, who was on the run, witnessed a young man at the local mortuary get shot in the hand as he tried to get the ambulance to help those in need. Clark told the press that his stepfather’s body was never found and his family’s land and belongings were burned down. His dog was killed. Later estimates of casualties from the riot were around 300 people, the majority of which were African-Americans. The survivors of the riot were denied rights of their property and no concessions were given for the damages. Above all else, the people lived in fear.
That horrible night in May, Clark left his once peaceful city of 15,000 and hopped a train headed west.
Immediately looking for work, Clark and his new wife were hired as the butler and the cook for actress Joan Crawford. Clark hung out with friends Stepin' Fetchit and met the acquaintance of actors Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin.
Admitting to living a “wild streak” with Stepin' Fetchit, Clark began experimenting with the sale of bootleg liquor during the Prohibition period. This lifestyle landed him jail time, where he discovered religion. Once he was released, Clark decided to preach all over the world. The Greenwood, Oklahoma native-turned-evangelist finally made it to the continent of Africa to speak at age 103. His next stop was Jamaica.
Clark lived a long life in good health, but nothing could dispel his memories of the Tulsa Race Riots and the horrors he faced on that fateful day in 1921.
Clark died May 21, 2012 at age 109.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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