I really want to shed some light on this community full of unity, organization, love, and respect within the black community. Really the fact that it was in the middle of a time of racial division and hatred makes this community that much for amazing…inspiring.
A lot of black Americans moved to Oklahoma around in the early 1900’s, and in the year 1907 Oklahoma became a state. Oklahoma provided a chance to get away from slavery and vicious racism; Oklahoma represented change and a fresh start. During this time a lot of Blacks intermarried into the Indian culture, some of them really did receive their promised “40 acres and a mule” and with that came any and all oil was later found on the land. A lot of global business was conducted on Black Wall Street.
As Tulsa began to grow and generate economic wealth it was separated into two parts; the whites referred to the north of the Frisco rail road tracks as “Little Africa”. By 1921 this suburb was home to over 10,000 black residents and became to be known as Greenwood. Greenwood was centered on a street called Greenwood Ave. This street was significant because it was one of the few streets that did not cross into the black and white neighborhoods; the residents of Greenwood took pride in that fact because it was something they had all to themselves. Imagine that feeling after coming from having EVERYTHING taken from you… Having to fight for the will to keep living…fight for hope.
According to ebony.com Greenwood Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, was the type of community that African Americans are still trying to rebuild today. Greenwood was one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the U.S. during the 20th century; in fact Green wood was one of the most affluent communities and it became known as Black Wall Street. Get this the dollar turned 36 to 100 times within this black community and the dollar actually stayed in this black community for almost a year according to sfbayview.com. This was actually an affect of the fact that the Jim Crow Laws had been placed into affect, what a great example of turning a potentially “bad” situation into a Great situation.
Black Wall Street had over 600 successful business including 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores, a movie theater, a hospital, a bank, libraries, schools, law offices, a bus system and 6 families owned their own private planes. The average income for a Black family was well over what minimum wage is today. Dr. Simon Berry, who owned the bus system in Tulsa, recalls that in 1910 his average income was around $500 a day, according to reports from sfbayview.com. This time was a major African-American economic movement that really worked like a family; the base of the community was to educate every child and nepotism was a word they strongly believed in.
As you can imagine their was a lot of jealousy coming from the surrounding communities. It was not uncommon that if a resident of the communities home accidentally burned down, it could be rebuilt within a few weeks by neighbors. This was the type of scenario that was going on day to day on Black Wall Street. Then on June, 1 1921 the largest massacre of American civilians in the history of the United States took place, and it was conducted by the Ku Klux Klan. 1,500 homes were burned to the ground. sfbayview.com estimated 1,500 to 3,000 people were killed, and we know that a lot of them were buried in mass graves all around the city. Some were just tossed into the river.
Survivors that were interviewed think that the whole thing was planned, because during the time that all of this was going on, White families with their children actually stood around the borders of their community and watched the entire massacre and all of its brutality; sfbayview says it was much like they would watch a lynching. The detail that people may overlook, if blinded by hatred, is that black or white did NOT cause this riot…it was actually emotions like envy and self hate.
A lot of people I asked had never heard of this piece of American history, I hadn’t heard of this community until this year, and I bring this to the light not to spread hate or fear, but to raise awareness and reveal strength. The dollar turned in the black community up to a year before leaving the community; comparatively in modern times, a dollar can circulate in Asian communities for a month, Jewish communities for 20 days and white communities for 17, but it leaves the modern-day Black community in six hours, according to reports from the NAACP.
The downfall of Black Wall Street definitively had a big impact on the black community and really brought down a lot of peoples spirits; not only black people but people in general. HUMANITY. Energy is transferred from one human being to another, that is how life works. So when things like this happen it transfers anger, fear, hopelessness, and sadness. But let us take a lesson from the way the community thrived for over a decade. It was a beautiful example of human beings working together harmoniously with love and strength. We worked together once and it can happen again. We have to use this as a positive example and let it build us up instead of mentally beat us down. I want to try to have respect for the pain that people have gone through and be brave enough to pull together and try.
Doing is the best way to give advice so my main goal in life is to be successful in my passions and help as many people as I can to do the same, one person at a time. I would rather give than take but if I am going to take I will take to learn how to give and I will take chances in order to prosper. Any time I feel anger I try to take a step back and realize that negative energy is trying to feed off of me and keep me from progressing. Anger and hatred really does nothing but hurt anyone it gets into. What if all of those people would have worked together instead of being over come by envy and hate? Imagine where we could be today…together.
Here is a video and links to more information on Black Wall Street, come up with your own perspective I would love to hear it. Have a great day and reach out anytime. firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂