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Showing posts with label Tulsa Oklahoma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tulsa Oklahoma. Show all posts

Friday, July 14, 2023

A New Lens on Black Wall Street: Tulsa’s Greenwood District

At the turn of the 20th century, an oasis of African American prosperity blossomed in the heart of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Known as the Greenwood District, it came to be recognized as the "Black Wall Street." Here, a powerful community thrived, demonstrating the resilience, resourcefulness, and spirit of Black America. Yet, many of us might know Greenwood mainly through the lens of tragedy – the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. It's time we saw Greenwood through a new lens.

Greenwood was more than just an economic hub. It was a testament to the indomitable will of its inhabitants who built an autonomous, thriving community in a climate of racial tension. Doctors, lawyers, real estate moguls, and restaurateurs – the people of Greenwood showed that the American Dream was possible for everyone. It was a beacon of hope that illuminated the promise of Black economic independence.

Imagine walking down Greenwood Avenue, the district's main thoroughfare. You’d pass movie theaters, luxury shops, and office buildings, all owned and operated by Black entrepreneurs. The dollar circulated dozens of times before leaving the community, resulting in a prosperous and self-sustaining local economy.

The schools in Greenwood stood as another testament to its resilience. Despite Oklahoma's racially segregated school system, the district boasted superior educational facilities, with a high school graduation rate exceeding the state average. By investing in education, Greenwood underscored its commitment to progress, fueling the dreams and ambitions of future generations.

The community also had a profound sense of solidarity. In a society marred by segregation and discrimination, Greenwood provided not only material prosperity but also emotional security and a sense of belonging. It was a space where Black lives were valued and respected, where Black culture and identity flourished.

However, Greenwood’s prosperity posed a threat to the status quo. On May 31, 1921, a violent mob descended upon the district, leaving a trail of devastation. But the Tulsa Race Massacre, as horrific as it was, did not mark the end of Greenwood. Its spirit survived. It was rebuilt, despite all odds, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

As we approach the 21st century’s third decade, it is our responsibility to remember and honor the legacy of Black Wall Street. We must learn from its blueprint for economic empowerment, community solidarity, and educational excellence. And importantly, we must ensure that the story of Greenwood isn't overshadowed by the tragedy but celebrated for its remarkable triumphs and unwavering resilience.

A new lens on Black Wall Street brings into focus a history not of victimhood, but of victorious spirit and unfathomable courage. In this light, Greenwood District isn't a relic of the past. It's a beacon of hope for the future, a vivid reminder of what is possible when a community is unified, driven, and unbroken.

In the truest sense, the spirit of Greenwood, the spirit of Black Wall Street, lives on.

Black Faith

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