Greenburgh woman survived Tulsa Race Massacre, became African American trailblazer

The spirit of Dr. Olivia Hooker is alive at her longtime church, Trinity United Methodist in White Plains, three years after her death.

News 12 Staff

Jun 2, 2021, 12:32 AM

Updated 1,051 days ago

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On the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, News 12 is remembering a longtime Greenburgh resident who was not only a survivor of the riots, but an African American trailblazer.
The spirit of Dr. Olivia Hooker is alive at her longtime church, Trinity United Methodist in White Plains, three years after her death.
In 2013 at age 98, Olivia Hooker, the first Black woman to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard, told News 12 what it was like as a 6-year-old girl in Muskogee, Oklahoma on May 31, 1921.
It's when an angry mob of white men charged into her house, torched her family's backyard, and eventually burned to the ground the mostly African American community of Greenwood, popularly known then as Black Wall Street.
During the riots, Hooker mistook the sound of bullets for hail. Her mother told her the sad truth.
"And she said those are not hail stones. They are bullets. And it means your country. You see the American flag on top of that machine? That means your country is shooting at you," she said.
One hundred years after the Tulsa Race Massacre, the fight continues for reparations, for all the pain and loss suffered.
While she was alive, Hooker was at the forefront of that fight - even going to court.
President Joe Biden didn't mention reparations in a visit to Greenwood on Tuesday, but as long as the fight continues, the members of Trinity United Methodist Church and beyond will remember a survivor and trailblazer who lived to serve others before herself.
News 12 spoke to Olivia Hooker's goddaughter, who declined to be interviewed but did says Hooker never spoke of the Tulsa massacre, and says she was shocked when she found out her godmother was a survivor of it.


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