Monday, March 25, 2013
Tulsa, Oklahoma "The Black Wall Street"
The Black Wall Street refers to a neighborhood in the Greenwood Village of Tulsa. It was the wealthiest black community in the US during its time and arguably to date. Declared a state in 1907, the community was designed to be a safe heaven for blacks to thrive off of their own successes. Over a 16 hour period of race riots the entire community was burned down in 1921. Given the time period of racial segregation and racial tension, the city of Tulsa was not prepared to control the riots nor protect the people of the community. Hundreds of black people were left wounded and without medical attention. The black hospital was burned down and they certainly weren't welcomed into the white hospital. Over 6000 black residents were detained by police and brought to jails in an effort to diffuse the riot. Apparently Tulsa officials thought it was the best way to "protect" the residents at the time. The police department received significant backlash for their this decision. Black people were often arrested for crimes they didn't commit and idea of bringing black people to prison for protection has a long history of negative racial connotations. Out of respect for the residents they should have been brought to a location for temporary shelter and medical attention. The largely successful neighborhood was under constant attack by the surrounding white communities. The attacks were intentional to stunt the growth and progress of the community. After the riots the community was left in shambles with out resources to rebuild it. Tulsa did nothing to assist the residents to rebuild their lives, instead they were left to fend for themselves. I chose to write about Greenwood because it deserve recognition not solely because of the massacre that occurred but because a group of black people were able to successful develop their own sustainable community without relying on white business owners. They established a community that respected black people and their needs. Up until last year I have never heard about this community. It would have been a good lesson to learn as a child the possibilities of success for black people and the power of unifying as a community. I encourage everyone to learn more about the Black Wall Street community. The existence of this community deserves to be to taught in schools.