And while Floyd’s name along with his repeated plea, “I can’t breathe,” have been exclaimed by thousands of protesters, the victims’ names of the Tulsa race massacre have been rarely spoken as the incident went unmentioned for decades in classrooms across the state.
Here’s how the massacre, also known as the Tulsa Race Riot, unfolded.
In the 1920s, the Greenwood District was dubbed “Black Wall Street” as the community boasted more than 300 black-owned businesses, including two theaters, doctors, pharmacists and even a pilot who owned his own private airplane.
The success of this black community, however, caused some white people in Tulsa to become envious and angry, according to Mechelle Brown, director of programs at the Greenwood Cultural Center.
They commented, “‘How dare these negroes have a grand piano in their house, and I don’t have a piano in my house’,” Brown told CNN’s Sara Sidner in 2016.
The tension reached its tipping point after an elevator incident between a 17-year-old white girl named Sarah Page and a 19-year-old black man named Dick Rowland.
Page worked as an elevator operator and Rowland would use the elevator almost every day.
“This particular day after the elevator doors closed and Sarah Page and Dick Rowland were alone in the elevator a few moments, there was a scream,” Brown said.
After the elevator doors opened, Roland ran and was later arrested. Page initially claimed that she was assaulted, Brown said.
Other historic accounts say Rowland tripped leaving the elevator, grabbed Page’s arm, she screamed and an onlooker went to authorities.
While Page never pressed charges, authorities did, and by the end of the day the rumor was that Page had been raped.
White armed mobs storm Greenwood
On May 31, a group of black and white men confronted each other at the courthouse where Roland was being held. After shots were fired, all hell broke loose.
Outnumbered African Americans retreated to Greenwood District, but early morning the next day, a white mob started to loot and burn businesses in Greenwood, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.
Absent from history books
In the decades following the 1921 massacre, it was largely unacknowledged.
Oklahoma leaders announced in February that the state would move forward with embedding the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre into the curriculum of all Oklahoma schools.
Same themes of racial injustice stand today
Protests erupted across the nation in cities including Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Washington over the weekend, with demonstrators demanding justice for Floyd who died at the hands of former police officer, Derek Chauvin.
CNN’s Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.