I recently discovered a piece of history that has conveniently been left out of our history books. On June 1,1921 one of the most affluent Black communities in northern Tulsa, Oklahoma was destroyed. The community stretched across 36 blocks, encompassed over 600 businesses and had a population of 15,000 Black folks.
From what I’ve read about that community, it sounds like an accurate description of it would be similar to a mini-Beverly Hills. What it shows is it that during the early 1900’s Black Americans had successful infrastructure. They had financial independence and had successfully created an economic movement. They knew how to pool their own resources together to create a sustainable community. There were jewelry stores, churches, restaurants, grocery stores, a hospital, schools, a bank, a post office, libraries, law offices, movie theaters, a bus system.
But on June 1, 1921, the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working together with ranking White city officials, and other “sympathizers”, carried out the decision to bomb the community from the air and simultaneously having mobs of folks burning the community from the ground. In fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving model community lay demolished– a major Black American economic movement resoundingly defused.
The night’s carnage left some 3,000 Black Americans dead, and over 600 successful businesses lost.
This is just an example that proves that if Black folks with the capital and the resources were to come together and use this Black Wallstreet community as a model, we could systematically go from city to city, state to state and construct sustainable, successful infrastructures. But that means enough of us have to know about this and that is the reason why it was left out. But this is 2015 and we don’t have the luxury of time to continue wallowing in ignorance. Our communities are being strategically destroyed and those of us who can do something about it aren’t.
It’s up to all of us to first educate ourselves, and then we must share the knowledge with others. Each one teach one.