Today marks an entire century after one of the biggest racial massacres happened in America. The sad part is most people didn’t learn about this event in school.
Feel free to check the link in the post for more information especially with the recent news about the survivors speaking trying to get the government to recognize this event.
For those that don’t know, I’m referring to the Black Wall Street Massacre. This involves a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma called the Greenwood District. Side Note: Greenwood is what the G means in The GAP Band who are from that same city. The thing is that in the 1910s-1921, Greenwood was a Black-only area due to segregation and Jim Crow. However, this Black enclave consisted of businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, etc. It got the nickname of Black Wall Street because Black people were making Wall Street money at the time. This was due to them starting their own businesses as well as getting into the oil business which was booming at the time in the Sooner State. Crime was negligible at worst, a dollar could circulate 100 times in the community before exiting Greenwood, and some of these businesses involved grocery stores, banks, jewelry stores, fashion boutiques, hospitals, and other establishments. You even had people moving from as far as New York City and Chicago just to live in this neighborhood.
Unfortunately, things became hostile in 1921. There was a false sexual assault allegation against a Black man by a Caucasian woman in an elevator which enabled there to be a mob who became deputized to ransack Greenwood. They were deputized, killed Black people, burned down businesses, looted whatever was there, and even bombarded Black Wall Street with an airplane to raze the community. Several people died even though they only reported over thirty in the news. However, there were mass graves revealed just a couple of years ago. No one was ever punished by this massacre and you even had Tulsans who’s families have been there for generations who didn’t even know about this atrocity happening.
I didn’t learn about this until about a couple of years after I graduated college in a DJ Vlad interview of Immortal Technique of all things (this is before I knew Vlad was a culture vulture, so please forgive me) mentioning it in passing. I didn’t get really in-depth with it until I saw the documentary Hate Crimes In the Heartland which features the remaining three survivors who are all now centenarians. My blood froze when one of the women who lived through that massacre said her mom saw these mobs wearing American flags while armed while telling her “Your country is shooting at you!” while breaking into tears. I strongly recommend anyone to watch this to really get details of Black Wall Street and how there needs to be justice and reconciliation.
Hearing about Black Wall Street was both fascinating in how the people thrived while establishing their own businesses while at the same time infuriating me with this gross racist injustice that happened. The stories of people owning their own airplanes, getting rich from their own means, and succeeding even in Jim Crow-era Oklahoma was inspiring. At the same time, hearing about this brutality made my blood boil. Keep in mind, the Black Wall Street Massacre was the FIRST airstrike on US soil. Unlike Pearl Harbor twenty years later the fact where a foreign country (Japan, obviously) attacked them, this was an attack by Americans to Americans. This piece of history also reveals racist hypocritical rhetoric that still happens to this day. The “bootstraps” argument is null and void. These people in Greenwood DID pick themselves up by their bootstraps, but their homes and businesses were razed. The complaint about people looting businesses during some of the BLM protests for example, falls flat (note: people shouldn’t be looting anyway) when a white mob looted and destroyed businesses and never got punished for their actions. This is still American history that needs to be talked about and taught. Tulsa wasn’t the only example (Slocum, TX and Rosewood come to mind) when it comes to these situations.
This didn’t even get mainstream attention to the best of my knowledge until the Watchman 2019 TV sequel of all things where it was a plot point in the show. You had people who thought it was wholly fictional until they did a basic Google search. One of my older paternal cousins didn’t even know about Black Wall Street until she saw the Watchman HBO show when she told me when we were on Zoom (she lives multiple states away from me). The other example I can think of even though this involves something very political was the backlash against Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa. It was originally going to be on Juneteenth until they changed the date due to the ramifications and symbolism of it being a double whammy of having an event on that holiday in the same city where this massacre happened. I was shocked that mainstream news channels talked about that even if it was brief when news broke out about the rally.
I thought this would be very important to share. People need to learn about this and other cases in this country. I want justice to prevail and for there to finally be healing going on. Several people regardless of race or ethnicity didn’t know about this until fairly recently. I’m not doing this to shame others. Is this an uncomfortable part of American history? Yes, and I don’t dispute that. I don’t want this history to repeat and I hate seeing racist hypocrisy going on in this country. There needs to be reconciliation. Never forget.
100 Years Later…Never Forget Black Wall Street!