Black People : Black Wallstreet: the true story.

I-khan

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Dec 27, 2005
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A Brief History.

If anyone truly believes that the last April attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was the most tragic bombing ever to take place on United States soil, as the media has been widely reporting, they’re wrong — plain and simple.

That’s because an even deadlier bomb occurred in that same state nearly 75 years ago. Many people in high places would like to forget that it ever happened.

Searching under the heading of “riots,” “Oklahoma” and “Tulsa” in current editions of the World Book Encyclopedia, there is conspicuously no mention whatsoever of the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and this omission is by no means a surprise, or a rare case. The fact is, one would also be hard-pressed to find documentation of the incident, let alone and accurate accounting of it, in any other “scholarly” reference or American history book.

That’s precisely the point that noted author, publisher and orator Ron Wallace, a Tulsa native, sought to make nearly five years ago when he began researching this riot, one of the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. Ultimately joined on the project by colleague Jay Wilson of Los Angeles, the duo found and compiled indisputable evidence of what they now describe as “a Black holocaust in America.”

The date was June 1, 1921, when “Black Wallstreet,” the 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 36-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 two 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.

In their self-published book, Black Wallstreet: A Lost Dream, and its companion video documentary, Black Wallstreet: A Black Holocaust in America!, the authors have chronicled for the very first time in the words of area historians and elderly survivors what really happened there on that fateful summer day in 1921 and why it happened. Wallace similarly explained to me why this bloody event from the turn of the century seems to have had a recurring effect that is being felt in predominately Black neighborhoods even to this day.

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.

The area encompassed over 600 businesses and 36 square blocks with a population of 15,000 African Americans. And when the lower-economic Europeans looked over and saw what the Black community created, many of them were jealous. When the average student went to school on Black Wallstreet, he wore a suit and tie because of the morals and respect they were taught at a young age. 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 in 1995.

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 and 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 to 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 that they would 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 Wallstreet. When Blacks 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.

Just to show you how wealthy a lot of Black people were, there was a banker in the neighboring town who had a wife named California Taylor. Her father owned the largest cotton gin west of the Mississippi [River]. When California shopped, she would take a cruise to Paris every three months to have her clothes made.

There was also a man named Mason in nearby Wagner County who had the largest potato farm west of the Mississippi. When he harvested, he would fill 100 boxcars a day. Another brother not far away had the same thing with a spinach farm. The typical family then was five children or more, though the typical farm family would have 10 kids or more who made up the nucleus of the labor.

On 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 non-military 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, the looting and everything–much in the same manner they would watch a lynching.

http://new.**************/release/?p=110
 

cherryblossom

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Feb 28, 2009
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...
Since African Americans could neither live among Whites as equals nor patronize White businesses in Tulsa, Blacks had to develop a completely separate business district and community, which soon became prosperous and legendary. Black dollars invested in the Black community also produced self-pride, self-sufficiency, and self-determination. The business district, beginning at the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street, became so successful and vibrant that Booker T. Washington during his visit bestowed the moniker: "Negro Wall Street."

By 1921, Tulsa’s African-American population of 11,000 had its own bus line, two high schools, one hospital, two newspapers, two theaters, three drug stores, four hotels, a public library, and thirteen churches. In addition, there were over 150 two and three story brick commercial buildings that housed clothing and grocery stores, cafes, rooming houses, nightclubs, and a large number of professional offices including doctors, lawyers, and dentists. Tulsa’s progressive African American community boasted some of the city’s most elegant brick homes, well furnished with china, fine linens, beautiful furniture, and grand pianos. Mary Elizabeth Parrish from Rochester, New York wrote: "In the residential section there were homes of beauty and splendor which would please the most critical eye." Well known African American personalities often visited the Greenwood district including: educators Mary McCloud Bethune and W.E.B. DuBois, scientist George Washington Carver, opera singer Marian Anderson, blues singer Dinah Washington, and noted Chicago chemist Percy Julian.

T.P. Scott wrote in "Negro City Directory": "Early African American business leaders in Tulsa patterned the development of Tulsa’s thriving Greenwood district after the successful African American entrepreneurial activity in Durham, North Carolina."

After the Civil War, former slaves moved to Durham from the neighboring farmlands and found employment in tobacco processing plants. By 1900, a large Black middle class had developed which began businesses that soon grew into phenomenally successful corporations, especially North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. Charles Clinton Spaulding was so successful with the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company that he was able to create a real estate company, a textile and hosiery mill, and the "Durham Negro Observer" newspaper. Durham Blacks also created a hospital, Mechanics and Farmers Bank (1908), North Carolina Training College (1910), Banker’s Fire Insurance Company (1920), and the National Negro Finance Company (1922). However, living conditions in Durham were so substandard and working conditions so poor that the 1920 mortality rate among Blacks in Durham was three times higher than the White rate. As of 1926, 64% of all African Americans in Durham died before the age of 40. These perilous working and living conditions were not present in Tulsa.

....After the Tulsa riot, the White inhabitants tried to buy the Black property and force Black people out of town. No Tulsa bank or lending institution would make loans in the riot-marred Greenwood district, and the city refused all outside assistance. However, racial pride and self-determination would not permit the Greenwood owners to sell, and they doggedly spend the entire winter in tents donated by the American Red Cross. Rebuilding was a testament to the courage and stamina of Tulsa’s pioneers in their struggle for freedom.



http://www.freewebs.com/esmondcolvin/theblackwallstreet.htm
 

Clyde C Coger Jr

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Its good to know...Good stuff:


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 Wallstreet. When Blacks 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.

However, living conditions in Durham were so substandard and working conditions so poor that the 1920 mortality rate among Blacks in Durham was three times higher than the White rate. As of 1926, 64% of all African Americans in Durham died before the age of 40. These perilous working and living conditions were not present in Tulsa.
 

cherryblossom

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Yes, that is some "good stuff," Bro. Clyde.

However, as you pointed out, those "40 acres/mule" were most likely a dowry paid or a wedding gift to the new "intermarried" couple from the Indian tribe involved.

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 Wallstreet. When Blacks 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.
 

Clyde C Coger Jr

going above and beyond
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Yes, that is some "good stuff," Bro. Clyde.

However, as you pointed out, those "40 acres/mule" were most likely a dowry paid or a wedding gift to the new "intermarried" couple from the Indian tribe involved.



For sure sister cherryblossom, makes sense to me.

 

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