cover image Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Floyd Cooper. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5415-8120-3

Without glossing over important facts, Weatherford (Dreams for a Daughter) tells the historical events of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in language appropriate for young readers. Rhythmic free verse text highlights a thriving community in segregated Tulsa: prosperous Greenwood, also known as Black Wall Street, had “nearly two hundred businesses in all,” including two Black-owned newspapers and 15 Black doctors. Using oil and erasure to form spare backgrounds and realistic, detailed portraits, Cooper’s (Sprouting Wings) illustrations pull readers through the events, beginning with a white woman accusing a Black man of assault and resulting in his arrest, an inflammatory headline that incited an angry white mob, and the mob’s subsequent massacre of Black citizens and burning of the entire Greenwood neighborhood. By focusing not just on the attack, but also on the positive achievements of the Black business owners, lawyers, and doctors of Greenwood, the book succeeds in teaching the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the legacy of Black Wall Street. An author’s note explains the impact of the event and a subsequent cover-up by the city. Ages 9–10. Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Feb.)