Tuesday, June 15, 2021

100 Years Since the Destruction of Black Wall Street

Two weeks ago marked the 100th Anniversary of Black Wall Street.  

This documentary by the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), The Legacy of Black Wall Street,  concentrates on the years leading up to the destruction and the massacre which accompanied it.  

Historically, enslaved Black people migrated to the Oklahoma territory in the company of their American Indian owners, as part of the Trail of Tears.  As the land was owned by the Native People, after the Civil War, African Americans were allowed to buy it. They set about building a Black community, Greenwood,Tulsa Oklahoma. 

When oil was discovered, Tulsa became a boom town.  Black people employed by white Oklahomans became wealthy, and their community thrived. Doctors, lawyers and millionaires settled there.  Notably, Black male and female entrepreneurs with vision also settled in Greenwood.  They arrived, not just to make money, but to help Black people to build their own businesses, providing advice and support to budding entrepreneurs.  They were the embodiment of Ujaama - co-operative economics. 

Then, on the 31st of March, 1921, a Black man, Dick Rowland, who went by the name of "Diamond Dick" rode the elevator, just as he had done every day for years.  But on that particular day, the white female elevator operator accused him of assault.  As usual, the alleged assault was used as a pretext for violence.  See also:  White Women's Role in White Supremacy

Diamond Dick was arrested and imprisoned prior to standing trial.  A white mob gathered, and we know the rest.  100 years later, this is no less shocking,  And the residents and business owners never received compensation.  

The Legacy of Black Wall Street describes the beauty of Black Wall Street, with its first-class hotel, cinemas screening Black films, and more.  This just goes to show how much was lost.  Black Wall Street gave people hope that things could improve.  It proved to Black people that they could aim high.  Similarly to such great figures as Harriet Tubman, it represented Black people's dreams, ambitions and aspirations, and proved that they were possible to achieve.  Thus, it was a threat to white supremacists, who wanted only to keep Black people down.  

See also:  The Black Wall Street - Before They Die.  

We know now that many other thriving Black communities were similarly attacked and destroyed by white supremacists.  Go here for Rosewood.  

Do you think this kind of destruction could still happen today?  And what can we do to prevent this from happening?  What solutions should we employ?  Please leave your comments below and please share this with your networks.  Thanks.  

Go here for more Black history blog posts.  


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