I hate this comment, “Black people will never get anywhere because they can’t come together”. Who said this ignorance is law? The story of what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma is one that I didn’t learn during black history month nor in school.Even though I should have. I stumbled across this knowledge on accident through casual conversation. After learning about it, I feel it’s my duty to pass this knowledge on. The civilization of Black Wallstreet is one that makes me both hopeful and proud. It was literally a black utopia. Nothing but black owned businesses and families. Everything was black owned an operated. Including an airport, hospital, post office, schools. They had EVERYTHING. I compare this to a black utopia because it is beautiful. People say this can’t happen. It is all-black EVERYTHING. That’s something that America doesn’t have today…. At least not like this…
It started in 1906 with O.W Gurley. He moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma and brought 40 acres of land. His intent was to sell this land to black people. From day one, he had a vision of all-black everything. He set out to create this vision. Once it materialize, it proved to be so much more. Black Wallstreet was a large, Nepotistic Community. They believed strongly in black empowerment. “Black empowerment” doesn’t mean militant. I wish people would get that out of their heads… Another business man by the name of J B Stradford had a lot to do with the evolution of Greenwood, or black wallstreet, as well. It was his belief that black people had to come together and put up their resources. With that being said, he made numerous financial contributions. It was leaders like Gurley and Stradford that helped this community develop the way that it did. It flourished. With ambition and a community of people determined to establish their place in this world. success was inevitable.
The Race riots of Tulsa, Oklahoma 1921
Black Wallstreet came burning down on May 31, 1921. On that fateful night, the bloodiest race riot in American history broke out between the black residents of Greenwood and the KKK. The tipping point was when a 17 year old white girl accused a 19 year old black man of assaulting her. An angry white lynch mob went after the alleged “assailant”. However, the citizens of Greenwood wasn’t about to let this go down freely. They believed in protecting their own. Not to mention, this was just an accusation. Nothing was proven. This reminds me of Emitt Til. So much destruction was placed on a little white lie that sloppily covered the real issue of racial tensions and hatred. On June 1st 1921, The remaining citizens who didn’t lose their lives were forced to look at what had become of their hard work. The vision laid at their feet reduced to smoldering rubble. Over 600 black businesses were lost. The death toll from that one night is reported as being 300 but the toll was really higher. It is believed that thousands died that evening. Greenwood was rebuilt 5 years after the riots but it wasn’t the same. Today, there is no Black Wallstreet….