Talk Show Hosts, Columnists, Reporters etcTHIS PAST WEEK (May 31st)
Many of Us Programmed right past the 90th Year Anniversary of the
massacre on the Black community of The Original Black Wall Street
of Tulsa Oklahoma – Its not too late to reflect on what happened to the
people of the original Black Wall Street and the people of the Black
Wall Street Movement today. (www.blackwallstreetdistrict.com) PLUS the National Black Wall Street COnvention In Gary Indiana October 21-23!!
Greenwood, Okla.: The Legacy of the Tulsa Race Riot
In 1921, Greenwood, a successful,
all-black enclave in Tulsa, was the site of the deadliest race riot in
U.S. history. For the inhabitants of “the Black Wall Street,” life would
never be the same.
The riot “just shows you how irrelevant, not only from the view of
but that of the nation as a whole, black life was. It was seen
as expendable,” says Rosa.
After the riot, black Tulsans, who were living in tents and forced to
wear green identification tags in order to work downtown, still managed
to turn the tragedy into triumph. Without state help, they rebuilt
, and by 1942 the community had more than 240 black-owned
In subsequent decades, however, the community
declined as the pioneers of Greenwood died and many of their
descendants moved away. The district struggled most critically during
the 1960s as Tulsa became more integrated, which led to a decline in the
Greenwood population and also undermined many of the local black
family-run businesses. In the 1970s, a large segment of Greenwood was
demolished to make way for an interstate highway that became a main
connector for the downtown area.
An Oklahoma state commission conducted an investigation of the riot from 1997 to 2001, questioning survivors about that day back in 1921. The commission recommended specific reparations to the community, the living survivors and their descendants.
The state did subsequently enact a law in June 2001 that provided
about 300 scholarships for descendants, developed a memorial and pushed
for development in Greenwood — but the law fell far short of what the
commission had recommended. The remaining survivors have continued to
fight for further restitution, which is addressed in the 2008
documentary Before They Die!
For some descendants, the demise of such a prosperous business
community highlights the struggles that black America continues to face
today. “The difference is that our society now is desegregated much
more, and the challenge now is for our businesses to do successful
business with a majority of firms,” says John Rogers Jr.,
the founder of Chicago-based Ariel Investments, LLC — and the
great-grandson of J.B. Stradford. “There’s still a remnant of historical
Monée Fields-White is a Chicago-based writer who covers a wide array of topics, including business and economic news.