Remembering Black Wall Street

Black Wall Street Painting by Vincent Keele

Around the early 1900s Black Wall Street was an African American self contained town that flourished. They built black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, these very rich African Americans controlled all the Commerce within the triangle barrier of Greenwood Archer and Pine (AKA GAP).

After, the Civil War ended over 50 African American townships were being established in Oklahoma between 1865 and 1920. The Indian territories were one of the safest places for African Americans to grow and thrive.

They founded black Wall Street in 1906 with the slogan:

“Built for black people by black people”

You could find people wearing the nicest clothes, luxurious shops, doctors’ offices, law offices, thriving construction, hospitals, public transportation, hotels, banks, theater houses and all the newest cars moving about the city. African-Americans controlled and operated everything within the city.

Black Wall Street Fashion

They spent all money earned from working abroad in the community over and over. Historians have noted that money would change hands 19 times before it left the community.

The residents of Black Wall Street, we’re living an upscale lifestyle. This upscale lifestyle attracted attention of white people fast and made them jealous because of their less prosperous lives and disrupting the status quo.

The financial power of Black Wall Street was being felt all across America and you could feel the movement growing in power. African American people were  striving to do better for themselves, just as Booker T. Washington suggested.

The goal was to move toward independence, to have “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness“ as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.

Jealousy and envy fueled the minds of white people, KLAN members, racist and the federal government. The Massacre of Black Wall Street began on May 31st, 1921, and lasted two horrifying days.

It began after 19-year-old African American shoe shiner Dickie Rollin was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old white elevator operator named Sarah Page. As tensions escalated, small groups of African-American men took up arms for protection. But they were no match for what was coming.

Through a highly orchestrated attack, they cut the city off from the outside world and they blocked all escape routes.

Leaving the residents in the hands of racist madmen. They set over 40 blocks of the city on fire, rapeing women, torturing men and killing babies and kids. A Mob of 1,700 racist infested the city with no recourse or mercy? To destroy all evidence of the massacre, the US government targeted the city for destruction with the dropping of a bomb. 

The Tulsa Race Riot

The Tulsa Massacre left hundreds of African American residents dead and thousands of homes and businesses looted and burning. 

Tulsa Burning

After the massacre survivors recount, trains were being loaded with bodies and then dumped off the Arkansas River bridges and others were thrown in mass grave pits.

They rebuilt the city over the ashes, and African-Americans found themselves in poverty and in debt as the city moved into modern times.

Today the story of Black Wall Street is a mere whisper in modern time. But today, in this painting We Remember Black Wall Street. What they achieved and the tragic lessons they taught us.

Black Wall Street Original Painting by Artist Vincent Keele

 Read More Orange Edge Art News

Shop Fine Art Now