Can We Have Another Black Wall Street?

 

Carla Calhoun

Can we have another Black Wall Street?

Now is the time for the Black community to support and invest in their own businesses. We need our own banks, restaurants, schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, grocery stores, department stores and the list go on.

Is this a dream or is it possible?  It was done before, why not again, this time in cities across America.

Black Wall Street was one of the most prosperous African American communities in the United States. In 1921 Tulsa Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, was known as the Black Wall Street. This community proudly boasted of hotels, cafes, banks, clothing stores, movie theaters, and beautiful homes with superior educational establishments and an upper-class lifestyle. At that time, the State of Oklahoma had only two airports and get this…. six black families owned their own planes.

In 1906, O.W. Gurley, A wealthy African American from Arkansas, moved to Tulsa Oklahoma and purchased over 40 acres of land that he made sure was sold only to other African Americans. (Excerpts from Montford in the Atlanta Black Star.)

Gurley provided an opportunity for blacks migrating from the racially harsh and segregated Mississippi, an opportunity to provide well for themselves and their families. The average income for those blacks in 1906 then exceeded minimum wage today. Blacks were affluent and doing exceptionally well which infuriated the less fortunate white neighbors who resented the upper-class lifestyle.

On May 31,1921, the Tulsa Tribune reported that a 17 yr. old black man, Dick Rowland, attempted to rape a white woman.

White residents decided to take matters into their own hands instead of waiting for the investigative process. This resulted in two days of racial violence. Ebony magazine, in 2013, described it as “the bloodiest and most horrendous race riots” (and acts of terrorism) that the Unites States has ever experienced. Black and whites fought, but the whites outnumbered the blacks of Greenwood. The Greenwood Black residents returned to their City, but the enraged mob of whites followed them and began looting and burning Greenwood Community. The black businesses and homes were destroyed. It is reported that 300 African Americans were killed and over 9,000 left homeless and had to live in tents.

Black Wall Street went up in flames and Black Wall Street was no more.

Cleveland.com reported on Monday June 8th, 2020, Lebron James’ Entertainment Company, SpringHill Entertainment, confirmed that they are working on a documentary focused on the Tulsa Race Massacre. The Director, Salima Koroma, stated “the Tulsa Massacre is not just a black story but  American History. The fabric of this country is soaked in racism and today, 99 years later, we are still fighting for change.”

For more information about yet another horrific time in Black America read Black Wall Street by Hannibal B. Johnson.