Stradford, John the Baptist "J. B."(born: 1861 - died: December 22, 1935)
John the Baptist "J. B." Stradford was born enslaved in Versailles, KY, the son of Julius Caesar Stradford. The J. B. Stradford family moved to Tulsa, OK, in 1899. J. B. was a graduate of Oberlin College and Indiana Law School. He and his wife, Augusta, had lived in several cities, including Lawrenceburg, KY, before settling in Tulsa. J. B. became the richest African American in Tulsa via his rooming house, rental properties, and the largest African American-owned hotel in the United States. He initiated the development of Greenwood, a prosperous neighborhood referred to as "the Black Wall Street."
By 1920 the political, racial, and economic times were on a downward turn in Tulsa. On May 30, 1921, a story circulated that an African American man had assaulted a white woman, and there were rumors of a lynching. The next day Whites and African Americans armed themselves and met outside the Tulsa County Courthouse. A scuffle led to an exchange of gunfire and the beginning of the infamous Tulsa Race Riot. All 35 blocks of Greenwood were burnt to the ground. It was one of the worst riots in the nation's history. Twenty African American men, including J. B. Stradford, were indicted for starting the riot. Stradford jumped bail and left Tulsa. He later became a successful lawyer in Chicago. In 1996, the charges were officially dropped against Stradford.
For more see "Oklahoma clears Black in deadly 1921 race riot," New York Times, 10/26/1996, p. 8; and Death in a Promised Land: the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, by S. Ellsworth.