Black History Month Special: Rebuilding Black Wall Street


Archer at Greenwood looking norht, 1938

In the late 1800’s a revolution started to occur in the state of Oklahoma. After slavery was abolished, a lot of ex-slaves congregated themselves in Oklahoma to look for a better life as it was new territory. It represented hope and change. Oklahoma become a state in 1907. Greenwood, Tulsa was a neighbourhood populated by only black people due to racial segregation. Greenwood avenue was only about a mile long and previously abandoned but the black residents of the town decided they were going to conqueror this land. Greenwood avenue would be known now as the Black Wall Street. There were two theatre’s, two black schools, 15 doctors’ offices, banks, drug stores, grocery stores, hotels, launderettes etc. All these businesses were included in the 108 black owned businesses that were booming in the Black Wall Street.

 

Reasons for why Greenwood avenue was so successful?

 

  • Due to the forced racial segregation from the whites, black residents were forced to only buy and sell from each other. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Economically, this boosted the community as their money was only circulated among themselves

 

  • Greenwood possessed 4 key pillars – which a flourishing community has. A bank, an education system, a hospital, and a grocery store. Let me break down each of these things so you can truly understand.

 

  1. A Bank: If black people own their own banks, then they are more likely to favour people of their own race when they request loans to start their own businesses. Due to the economic structure of Greenwood, their businesses were bound to be successful and thus, the bank will inevitably get their money back and the resident would have shown that they are able to borrow and pay back the bank. Therefore, everyone is happy.

 

  1. An Education System: What if we were about to take education into our own hands? Teach core practices essentially for life however, teach our own history and how to gain economic growth. Black schools in Oklahoma had one of the best educational systems in the US – therefore they were clearly doing something right.

 

  1. A Hospital: This is essential in any community, as it guarantees survival.

 

  1. A Grocery store: If we are able to grow, produce and sell natural products, that will give us a health edge in our communities. Health has always been wealth. Also, we know what we eat on a general consensus therefore, the stores will be 90% catered to the foods and goods we need and enjoy.

 

  • People of the same colour supported each other! Currently Black America’s buying power is $1.2 Trillion Dollars and Black Britain’s buying power is £40 million pounds ANNUALLY! But where are we spending our money? Not in our communities!

 

In general, Black America boomed financially from the time within the abolition of slavery just before integration, due to the racial divide. They made the best out of their circumstances, and many individuals had businesses, and  blacks would only buy from other blacks.

 

Sadly, on May 21st, Black Wall Street was destroyed due to a racial riot. It was rebuilt within 6 months after the attacks- however in the late 60’s in to the early 70’s due to integration of blacks and whites, blacks stopped supporting black businesses –  as white owned goods where available to them. Thus, Black Wall Street was officially

Racial Riot

 

Although, this occurred over 50 years ago, black communities today especially in western countries seem to exhibit these integrative symptoms. Integrative symptoms meaning – we have forgotten to support ourselves.

 

These are statistics I found pertaining to the US.

 

A dollar circulates:

  • 6 hours in the Black community
  • 17 days in the White community
  • 20 days in the Jewish community
  • 30 days in the Asian community

 

If black communities want to prosper, we need to start building and supporting one another. Now supporting can be in many ways. If you enjoy the product/service you can purchase, and promote it. However, if it’s not the best business in its inception, support the business through providing actionable steps to enabling that business to become better!

 

So, are we gonna build our own Black Wall Streets?

 

One more thing,

 

 “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”

~ Danny Thomas

 

Ama

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