Updated: Dec 30, 2022
This Article is Contributed by Robin Hamilton, An Emmy-award winning Television Host, Producer and Moderator, Founder of ARound Robin Production Company , Washington DC, USA.
Black Wall Street - It's Carnage And Aftermath
With the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, the story of Black Wall Street has been brought back into the limelight. It is a story of immense success and devastating destruction that serves as a reminder of the importance of economic empowerment in the African American community.
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was the most devastating example of this, and it is an event that still resonates today.
This article will explore the background of Black Wall Street and its tragic destruction, as well as its aftermath and the current state of Tulsa's African-American community today.
Background of Black Wall Street
Black Wall Street, also known as Greenwood, was a vibrant African-American community located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was home to numerous thriving Businesses, Churches, and other Organizations that were owned and operated by Black Residents. It eventually became a huge 35-block community that could provide you with every necessity without leaving the block.
There were theaters, community halls, doctor's offices, grocery shops, and hotels. To be detailed there were several restaurants and offices of real estate agents and lawyers. Greenwood was a heavenly residence for over 10,000 black people at that time.
The renowned Black Wall Street was an iconic symbol of the power and potential that could be realized when Black People are allowed to flourish Economically and socially.
However, it was destroyed in 1921 during one of the worst episodes of racial violence in American history. The event stands as a reminder of the deep-seated racism that has long been a part of American society, and the importance of working to overcome it.
Tragic Destruction of Black Wall Street
The destruction of Black Wall Street occurred in 1921 in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time, Greenwood was a booming community of African Americans who had built successful Businesses and a strong Economy. However, this prosperity was met with jealousy and resentment from some of the white residents, who harbored deeply ingrained racist attitudes.
On May 31 and June 1, 1921, a white mob attacked Greenwood, looting and burning homes and businesses. They targeted the African American residents of the neighborhood, killing an estimated 300 people and injuring many more. During the massacre, more than 1200 homes were burnt and that left thousands homeless and destitute according to The New York Times report.
The violence was sparked by a false rumor that a black shoe shiner Dick Rowland had assaulted a white elevator operator Sarah Page but it was fueled by racism and resentment of the success of Greenwood's black residents.
It was considered one of the worst incidents of Racial Violence in American History.
The Aftermath of the Tulsa Massacre
The destruction of Black Wall Street was a devastating blow to the African American community in Tulsa, and it remains a tragic and little-known chapter in American history. The attack, which lasted for two days, left hundreds of people dead and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed.
The aftermath of the massacre was devastating for the victims and their families, as well as for the entire African American Community in Tulsa. Many people lost their homes, businesses, and possessions, and some were left homeless and destitute. The attack also had a profound impact on the city's economy, as the Greenwood District was a prosperous hub of commerce and industry before the massacre.
In the years following the massacre, the survivors and their descendants struggled to rebuild their lives and their community. Some were able to rebuild their homes and businesses, but many were unable to do so due to a lack of Resources and Support.
The attack also had a lasting psychological impact on the survivors, who were traumatized by the violence and loss they had experienced.
Current State of Affairs of Afro-Americans in Tulsa
After the massacre, the African American Community in Tulsa and across the United States continued to face discrimination and inequality. However, the massacre also served as a rallying cry for the civil rights movement, and many African Americans used the tragedy as a motivation to fight for their rights and dignity.
Despite all those challenges, the survivors and their descendants continued to persevere and rebuild their community, and over time, the Greenwood District was able to regain some of its former prosperity.
Today, the Tulsa massacre is remembered as a tragic and dark chapter in Afro-American history, and a reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality.
In conclusion, it is impossible to overlook the profound impact of Black Wall Street and its tragic story. In a few days, the communities of Greenwood, Tulsa, and those around it were destroyed and the devastation was felt not just in 1921 but for generations to come.
The racism, discrimination, and exploitation suffered by Black Americans is a dark part of our national history that we must remember and learn from to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. It serves as a reminder of the systemic racism and violence that has been inflicted upon black communities.
It is also important to recognize the resilience of African Americans who, despite all odds, have continued to build success out of adversity.
Today’s African American communities are a testament to this Brave and Extraordinary Spirit - a Spirit that can never be extinguished by any Force or Tragedy.
Nine thousand people became homeless, Josie Pickens writes in Ebony. This “modern, majestic, sophisticated, and unapologetically black” community boasted of “banks, hotels, cafés, clothiers, movie theaters, and contemporary homes.” Not to mention luxuries, such as “indoor plumbing and a remarkable school system that superiorly educated black children.” Undoubtedly, less fortunate white neighbors resented their upper-class lifestyle. As a result of a jealous desire “to put progressive, high-achieving African-Americans in their place,” a wave of domestic white terrorism caused black dispossession.
Pic : Black Wall Street in its Hey Days....!!
At One Point of time , The average income of black families in the area exceeded “what minimum wage is today.” As a result of segregation, a “dollar circulated 36 to 100 times” and remained in Greenwood “almost a year before leaving.” Even more impressive, at that time, the “state of Oklahoma had only two airports,” yet “six black families owned their own planes.”
The Greenwood district offered proof that black entrepreneurs were capable of creating vast wealth.
Black Wall Street gave the drive and the power to own financial institutions and allowed Black citizens to invest in each other and Prosper together as a Wealthy Community.
Again, The Pendulam is Swinging back and Blacks and Browns are starting More and More Start-Ups again today....and are in the process of Creating New Black Wall Street....!!
Reviving Tulsa's 'Black Wall Street' through startups | ABC News