Easily one of the most tragic events in the country's history is one that is usually overlooked. It was a brutal time during the country's past that most people today aren't even aware of. The damage was so significant it bled through into generations of people far past that era. The Greenwood district in Tulsa Oklahoma was one of the most thriving areas for black people during the early 1900s and went on to gain the name Black Wall Street.
In 1906, a wealthy African-American man by the name O.W. Gurley moved to Tusla and bought out 40 acres of land and called it Greenwood, taking after a town in Mississippi. From this point on, he decided to only sell to other African-Americans. There were about 100,000 residents in this area at its most prosperous time. Gurley would actively loan money to people who wanted to start their own business.There were in total 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores, a hospital, three hotels, two movie theaters, jewelry and clothing stores, and a nationally recognized school system. This was one of the most effective, and innovative parts of history that a lot of people do not know about. To this day this was if not is the most prosperous area that was majority filled with black citizens.
One of the main reasons this was so important was due to the mass amounts of racial discrimintation and hate crimes actively going on throughout America. This was 58 years before the civil rights movement and 43 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This was during a time period where everything was racially biased and segregated without much resistance from the black community, due to the power struggle. The Greenwood district is one of the first acts of resistance and an attempt to take control. America was segregated but not willingly, this showed that if black people were going to be oppressed through segregation they would take some type of control and manage the situation by making an area exclusively for themselves.
In 1921, a black teen by the name Dick Rowland was falsely accused of assaulting Sarah Page, a white 17 year old elevator operator. The local newspaper released an article talking about the situation and mentioned lynching. The African-American group “Twice,'' which was filled with black World War I veterans, offered to help the police escort Rowland. They believed that he was going to be hurt, either by the police or opposing white protesters. As they were leaving, a white man tried to disarm one of the black veterans causing a shot to be fired off which led to the white mob showing up and heading into the Greenwood district for a 48 hour long attack. This attack killed 300 people, caused one million dollars in property damage and left 10,000 residents homeless. There were bombs dropped onto the city, some of the victims were literally burned alive and more than 40 square blocks of property was destroyed.
Despite the tragic event, the city rebuilt itself and continued on until around the 60s and 70s, however due to the business district being cut out from the rest of the city, it halted. This experience affected the African-American community in more ways than one, from education to economic downfall it caused a significant plummet in growth. This remains one of the most tragic events and today the African-American community is feeling the reproductions. The majority of people who lived in this district were the children or grandchildren of slaves. From one tragic time in history to another generations of black citizens felt the effects of blatant oppression in America.