Greenwood, a suburban town just outside of Tulsa, was once the quintessential display of black success. The oil booms of the 1900s enticed many African Americans to move to Tulsa with the hopes of being able to reap some of the monetary rewards of this thriving and highly lucrative industry. Due to Tulsa’s severe segregation, many of those blacks migrated to it’s northern regions, settling down and building a community there. As a result, many blacks in the area were able to carve out and build successful careers for themselves as entrepreneurs, including bank owners, restaurateurs, hoteliers, clothiers and more. These individuals were even able to provide things for themselves that their white counterparts didn’t have, such as top-notch schooling systems and indoor plumbing.
Envious of their black neighbors, and too inept to simply create these “luxuries” for themselves, the whites, in a fit of idiotic rage, ransacked and looted Greenwood,destroying close to 200 businesses, killing over 300 black people and leaving over 9,000 homeless. As to be expected, the neighborhood was never quite able to regain its previous majestic and dignified levels.
I hope we all take a moment today to not only mourn for those dead and what was lost, but to use the outrage over these senseless acts to fuel your own ambitions. Racism is still alive and it’s our job to carry on in a manner that would make our ancestor proud.
Here’s to a new Black Wall Street in 2014.