Have you ever heard of Black Wall Street? If not, I want to take a moment to help you realize just how affluent this community actually was.
BLACK WALL STREET
Black Wall Street was located in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This area was the home to over 100,000 African Americans who had previously been slaves. These people came to Greenwood looking for a new life and they built this community from the ground up. I need you to understand that 100,000 people would be about the size of Kenosha, Wisconsin today.
O.W. Gurley, an African-American from Arkansas, established this powerful black community in 1906 when he purchased over 40 acres of land in Tulsa and only sold it to other African-Americans. Gurley’s goal was to provide an opportunity for those who were migrating from Mississippi to escape slavery and oppression.
Now, the economics of this community at that time were amazing as the average income of black families in the area was higher than the current minimum wage, and segregation allowed a dollar to circulate within Greenwood for 36 to 100 times, remaining there for almost a year before leaving. In addition to this, while the state of Oklahoma only had two airports at the time, six black families in Greenwood owned their own planes.
By the year 1921, this neighborhood had grown to having over 600 businesses operating within their district. To just name a few of what was available for those who traveled through, there were a number of luxury shops, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores, a hospital, a savings and loan, a post office, three hotels, jewelry and clothing stores, two movie theaters, a library, a pool hall, a bus and cab service, a nationally recognized school system, 6 private airplanes and two black newspapers. That’s crazy!
It makes me wonder what our lives would be like today if Greenwood Oklahoma had of never been destroyed.
For more information on like this, contact me to schedule one of my Cross Cultural Literacy Sessions for your church or business. You can also utilize my Recommended Resources Guide to see a list of recommended books, videos & articles that I’ve put together for those who would like to go deeper.