In the midst of constant news about Black death at the hands of police, emboldened neighborhood racists or disproportionate rates of COVID-19 infections, we need reminders of Black resilience for historical context and our collective psyche. While the story of Black Wall Street and the upcoming anniversary of the 1921 massacre illustrates the brutality of unchecked white supremacy, it also asserts the robust spirit of the Black community and entrepreneurship.
Ninety-nine years ago on May 31, 1921, a white supremacist mob burned down “Black Wall Street,” a prosperous neighborhood of Black-owned businesses, churches and homes in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Racially charged allegations of a young African-American man assaulting a young white woman combined with ongoing resentment of Black success ignited a White mob to kill hundreds of Black Tulsans and destroy acres of their property. It was one of the worst racial mass killings in American history; resulting in the mass exodus of thousands of Black Tulsans. Its aftereffects still deeply impact every aspect of the city.