Black Wall Street, Let us not forget: 31 May 1921 – Tulsa, Oklahoma

{Our thanks to regular contributor Betty Holford of CBC}

The Date Was June 1, 1921, BLACK WALLSTREET

Black-WallSt6The name fittingly given to one of the most affluent All-BLACK Communities in America, was bombed from the air and Burned to the ground by mobs of envious Whites.

In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving Black Business District in northern Tulsa lay smoldering — a model Community destroyed and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused.

The Night’s Carnage left some 3,000 African Americans Dead and over 600 Successful Businesses Lost.

Among these were 21 Churches, 21 Restaurants, 30 Grocery Stores and 2 Movie Theaters, plus A Hospital, A Bank, a Post Office, Libraries, Schools, Law Offices, a half dozen Private Airplanes and even A Bus System.

As could have been expected, the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with
Ranking City Officials and many other Sympathizers.

The best description of BLACK WALL STREET, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be to compare it to a mini – Berverly Hills.

It was the golden door of the BLACK Community during the early 1900’s, and it proved that African Americans
could create a 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 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.

It was a time when the entire State of Oklahoma had only 2 Airports, yet 6 BLACKS, Owned their own Planes.
It was a very Fascinating Community.

The mainstay of the Community was to educate every child.

Nepotism was the one word they Believed in. And that’s what we need to get back to.

The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Avenue, and it was intersected by Archer and Pine Streets.

From the First Letters in each of those Three Names you get G.A.P. And that’s where the renowned R&B Music
Group The GAP Band got its name. They’re From Tulsa.

BLACK WALLSTREET was a prime example of the typical, BLACK Community in America that did businesses, but it was in an unusual location.

You See, At The Time, Oklahoma was set aside to be a BLACK and Indian State.

There were over 28 BLACK Townships there. One third of the People who traveled in the terrifying “Trail of Tears” along side the Indians between 1830 and 1842 were BLACK People.

The Citizens of this proposed Indian and BLACK State chose A BLACK Governor, A Treasurer from Kansas named McDade.

But the Ku Klux Klan said that if he assumed Office they’d Kill Him within 48 hours. A lot of BLACKS owned Farmland, and many of them had gone into the Oil Business. The Community was so tight and Wealthy because they traded Dollars hand-to-hand, and because they were dependent upon one another as a result of the Jim Crow Laws.

It was not unusual that if a Resident’s Home accidentally Burned down, it could be rebuilt within a few weeks by Neighbors.

This was the type of scenario that was going on Day-to-Day on BLACK WALL STREET.

When BLACK’s intermarried into the Indian Culture, some of them received their promised ‘40 Acres and A Mule
and with that came whatever Oil was later found on the Properties.

Black-WallSt7On BLACK WALLSTREET, A lot of Global Business was conducted, The Community flourished from the Early 1900s until June 1, 1921.

That’s when the Largest Massacre of Nonmilitary Americans in the History of this Country took place, and it was lead by The KU KLUX KLAN.

Imagine walking out of your front door and seeing 1,500 Homes being Burned. It must have been amazing.

Survivors we interviewed think that the whole thing was planned because during the time that all of this was going on; White Families with their children stood around the borders of their Community and watched The Massacre.

Black-WallSt4The looting and everything — much in the same manner they would watch a Lynching. The Riots weren’t caused by anything Black or White. It was caused by jealousy. A lot of White Folks had come back from World War I and they were poor.

When they looked over into The BLACK Communities and realized that BLACK Men who Fought in The War had come Home as Heroes, and that helped to trigger the destruction.

It cost the BLACK Community everything, and not a single dime of restitution – No Insurance Claims – has been awarded the victims to this day. Nonetheless, they rebuilt.

We estimate 1,500 to 3,000 People were Killed and we know that a lot of them were Buried in Mass Graves all around the City. Some were thrown into the river.

Black-WallSt5As a matter of fact, at 21st Street and Yale Avenue, where there now stands a Sears Parking Lot, that corner used to be a Coal Mine. They threw a lot of the Bodies into the Shafts.

Beulah Smith and Kenny Booker, Two Elderly Oklahomans, lived through one of the Worst Race Riots in U.S. History, a rarely mentioned 1921 Tulsa Blood Bath that officially took Thousands of African-American Lives.

The Tulsa Race Riot Commission

Formed two years ago to determine exactly what happened, will consider next week the Controversial Issue of what, if any, Reparations should be paid to the Known Survivors of the Riot, a Group of less than 100 that includes Beulah Smith, now 92, and Kenny Booker, 86.

The Gun Went Off, The Riot Was On

On the Night of May 31,1921, mobs called for the Lynching of Dick Rowland, A Black Man who shined shoes, after hearing reports that on the previous Day He had Assaulted Sarah Page, A White Woman, in the elevator she operated in a downtown building.

Black-WallSt3A Local Newspaper, printed a Fabricated Story that Rowland tried to rape Page. In An Editorial, the same newspaper said a Hanging was Planned for that Night.

As Groups of both Blacks and Whites converged on the Tulsa Courthouse, a White Man in the Crowd Confronted an Armed Black Man, A War Veteran, who had joined with other Blacks to protect Rowland.

Black-WallSt2A Fabricated Newspaper Story Triggered The Violent Riots that left Hundreds, if not Thousands, Dead. Comm. Member Eddie Faye Gates told CNN what happened next. “This White Man,” she said, Asked The Black Man, “What Are You Doing With This Gun?

I’m going to use it if I have to,” the Black Man said, according to Gates, “and (the White Man) said, ‘No, you’re not. Give it to me,’ and he tried to take it. The gun went off, the White Man was Dead, The Riot Was On.”

Truckloads of Whites Set Fires and Shot Blacks on sight.

When the smoke lifted the Next Day, more than 1,400 Homes and Businesses in Tulsa ‘s Greenwood District, a prosperous area known as the “Black Wall Street,” lay in ruins.

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6 Responses

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  1. See, I would like it if plenty of the blogs I browse would just be honest in what they say. I think thats why I keep coming back here because not only is the info you provide useful, you also keep it “real”…haha.

  2. If you think they will not do it again, think twice. They did not like the fact that black businesses were thriving and doing well and that there was wealth in the black community. This is why here in Barbados they snuff out the competition whenever it arises. Remember the recon car businesses that was forced to be shut down here? Big car companies did not like the competition. White people continue to rule this earth through their military, their economics and their politics. If you don’t see it then look again very carefully. Ask yourself why black business never take off. It is not for lack of skill or brilliance. The society is arranged that way. The black leaders are controlled by big bucks and are paid to keep it that way.

    This is an scripture taken from the Apocrypha which the white man had his handing in taking out of the bible. Now he tells you don’t read it and you believe him:

    1 maccabees 1:11 In those days went out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many , saying Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are around about us ; for since we have departed from them we have had much sorrow.

  3. This incident took place in 1921. CNN was not around until the 80s almost 60 years later. Interesting article but need to just correct some facts.



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