Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Tulsa Oklahoma was home to Black Wall Street, an area of Tulsa where black businesses thrived and where their owners lived. As a recent article described "Greenwood Avenue had been lined with hotels, restaurants, furriers, and even an early taxi service using a Ford Model T. Nearly 200 businesses populated the 35-square-block district in all, as did some homes as stately as the ones owned by upper-class whites in the city." Described as the "epicenter of African American entrepreneurship and wealth in the early 20th century."
That was, until May 31 and June 1, 1921. That is when Tulsa whites invaded Black Wall Street, burning it down and killing many residents. Between 100 and 300 are estimated to have died. Approximately 10,000 black people were left homeless, and property damage was $32 million in today's money. Tulsa was the largest massacre in US history. Yet few were or are taught about this horrific part of our history.
Hopefully, that is about to change. Several artists, including Oprah, are working on projects that will tell the story of mass destruction of people and their property. Unknown is whether the story will be tamed down. White people rioting and killing African Americans have not been the subject of a major movie. It remains to be determined how many Americans will promote the movie and be willing to acknowledge the shame of the massacre. More importantly, US schools need to teach this part of our history in the raw and full context in which it occurred. That would be a major breakthrough in acknowledging our past and the horrible acts perpetrated upon African Americans and other minorities.