What If I told you that African Americans actually weren’t the lazy individuals that people portray them to be? That we actually have always come from a line of hardwork. That our history is much more than just “slavery.” Have you ever heard of Black Wall Street? January 2011 is when I found out about it in my “African American Experience” class (a course that is usually part of the core curriculum at HBCU’s).
Black Wall Street, the name fittingly given to one of the most successful all-Black communities in America. It was located in a neighborhood called Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“The best description of Black Wallstreet, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be liken it to a mini-Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African Americans had successful infrastructure. That’s what Black Wallstreet was all about. The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now in 1995, a dollar leaves the Black community in 15-minutes. As far as resources, there were Ph.D.’s residing in Little Africa, Black attorneys and doctors. One doctor was Dr. Berry who owned the bus system. His average income was $500 a day, a hefty pocket change in 1910. During that era, physicians owned medical schools. There were also pawn shops everywhere, brothels, jewelry stores, 21 churches, 21 restaurants and two movie theaters. It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six Blacks owned their own planes. It was a very fascinating community.”
So what happened to one of the wealthiest black communities in America? A race riot.
June 1, 1921 it was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious white people. The KKK ran the race riot, consorting with high ranking city officials. In less than 12 hours a thriving community that held over 600 businesses was destroyed. Black Wall Street lay smoldering in smoke and flames. An estimation of 1,500 to 3,000 African Americans were killed that day. Many buried in mass graves around the city. This is what remained:
Many individuals in higher places would like to forget this ever happened, but the fact still remains that it did. This is one of the largest massacres of non-military that occurred on United States soil. Imagine walking out of your front door and seeing 1,500 homes being burned down. A lady said “It was like the white people were fascinated by it, they watched in awe. It was much in the same manner they would watch at a lynching.”
So the next time someone brings up the attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma….remember Black Wall Street. It consisted of an even deadlier bombing that occurred 75 years prior in the same state changing the lives of many forever.