Remember the history of “Black Wall Street” | Racial Issues


When HBO’s TV series “Watchmen” (2019) and Lovecraft (2020) were played on our screens, recreating the historical event now known as the Tulsa Massacre, all races All Americans were taken aback. A story so cruel and important seems to have been forgotten by history.

Few people know the details of the mass slaughter of blacks by white mobs at the time, considered the wealthiest black community in the United States.

After the collective shock, NBA superstars LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Dream Hampton (executive producer of the documentary “Surviving R Kelly”) and other founders gave birth to multiple projects, all aimed at telling the story of the torn A split black economic success story. White racism.

But usually, history is more complicated than it seems. Why were there so many African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the turn of the 20th century? Why were they able to become so successful in the late 1800s and early 1900s in a period of time known for the collapse of reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow?

As I discussed in the book, I’ve always been here: Black freedom on indigenous lands, the story of the Tulsa community called “Black Wall Street” is incomplete, if you don’t know that it was originally an Indian town , Is densely populated by former black slaves of Creek women and men. Freedmen used the land they acquired through the US government to build a prosperous life for themselves, attracting African Americans who built on the existing black native landscape.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Holocaust, and it is worth correcting its broader history as we celebrate our new understanding of it and its unfortunate continuing relevance to our modern moments.

In the late 1820s and early 1830s, when members of the Cherokee nation began their now infamous “Road of Tears,” they were forced to deprive the Cherokee population of Georgia, Alabama, and the states that the Cherokee had called home for thousands of years. They are not alone in the land of North Carolina and Tennessee. A small number of these tribe members brought black women and men who were enslaved, and they helped ease their burdens by engaging in manual labor and other tasks.

By 1860, these enslaved people will account for approximately 15% of the Cherokee nation. Members of the other four slavery Indian peoples—Crick, Chixo, Choctaw, and Seminole—followed a similar journey to what was then called the Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma). a part of).

After members of all five countries fought on both sides of the Civil War, in 1866, the United States retaliated by forcing these countries to release enslaved people, providing them with all the rights and privileges of citizens, and granting them land allocation.

Freedmen of Creek (those who were previously enslaved by Creek) settled in different places, many people lived in what would become Tulsa to create towns and communities, some were black and some were interracial. In the late 1890s, white Americans discovered oil, and Tulsa increasingly became a center of speculators, attracting many American settlers.

As free men, the free men of Creek voted in tribal elections, served as tribal representatives, and built schools and churches for themselves. At the same time, in the United States, after the peak of the 1870s, African Americans found themselves receiving less federal support for voting rights and undisturbed lives. When they looked west, they saw the land, annuity payments, and rights owned by black indigenous peoples, which they wanted to own for themselves.

They poured in in droves, brought by newspaper editorials, advertisements, and personal appeals from town promoters. According to the US Census of 1894 and 1910, between 1890 and 1907, the black population of Indian Territories increased from 19,000 to more than 80,000.Their existence makes Oklahoma the state with the most towns created and inhabited by African Americans in the United States. It is called an “all black town”, although life is not perfect, as the southern black Mildred Robertson said, ” My people [formerly] Living in the bottom of Mississippi near Louisiana…they have more freedom in Oklahoma. “

Some black families have grown it, such as Titan and serial entrepreneur and financier OW Gurley, while others have built a comfortable middle-class lifestyle for themselves, catering to them through auto repair shops, grocery stores, sub-houses, and dental offices. Their black Tursans, among other businesses, created one of the richest black areas in the country-hence the name “Black Wall Street”.

Some white Tursans don’t like this, and jealousy is obvious, although racial violence did not become a major problem until Oklahoma was founded in 1907. In 1921, a black teenager named Dick Rowland shared an elevator with a white woman, causing her to scream, ending with a white Tursan, including law enforcement officers, burning down buildings, regardless of Indiscriminately shooting women, men and children; Dick Roland is a spark, but there are many fires before it.

African-Americans flocked to Tulsa because they saw the life and opportunities enjoyed by the Crick Freeman and other blacks who were previously enslaved by the Indians. In Indian territories, they are not subject to certain influences of white supremacy in the space ruled by tribal governments. This is the specific background that makes Black Wall Street possible. But the Tulsa massacre is a grim reminder that wherever white settlers go, so is their anger at the success of black people and the existence of real black people.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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