Looking back on the history of “Black Wall Street” | Racial issues

When HBO’s TV series “Watchmen (2019) and Lovecraft Country (2020)” shined on our screen, recreating what is now known as the Tulsa Massacre Americans of all races were shocked by historical events, so that such a cruel and important story seemed to have been lost by history.

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

After the collective shock, multiple projects were born. The initiators of these projects include NBA superstars LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, and Dream Hampton (executive producer of the documentary “Survived R Kelly” ), all of this is to tell the story of this black economic success. White racism.

However, usually, history is more complicated than it seems. At the beginning of the 20th century, why were there so many African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma? Why were they so successful in the late 1800s and early 1900s, famous for the failure of reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow?

As I discussed in the book, “I have always been here: the black freedom of indigenous people”, without knowing that it was originally a densely populated Indian town of Creek, was called “Black Wall Street”. The story of the Tulsa community is incompletely composed of creek women and men’s black former slaves. The free men used the land they acquired from the US government to build a prosperous life for themselves, attracting African Americans from the United States, based on the existing black natural landscape.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Holocaust. Fortunately, it has a broader history as we celebrate our new understanding of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, it continues to be relevant to our modern moments.

In the late 1820s and early 1830s, when members of the Cherokee family embarked on the now infamous “Tear Path”, they were forced to evacuate the lands of Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee. They are not alone. A few of these tribe members brought enslaved black women and men, and they helped ease their burdens by engaging in manual labor and other tasks.

By 1860, these enslaved people will constitute approximately 15% of the Cherokee nation. Members of the four other slave-owning Indian countries, namely Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole countries, also took a similar journey to the territory of India (modern Oklahoma). Part) place.

After the members of all five countries fought on both sides of the Civil War, the United States retaliated in 1866, forcing these countries to liberate the enslaved people, provide them with all the rights and privileges of citizenship, and allocate land for them.

The Creek Freemen (previously enslaved by Creek) settled in various places. Many people stayed in what would later become Tulsa to create towns and communities. Some of them were black and others were alien. In the late 1890s, white Americans discovered oil, and Tulsa gradually became a center of speculators, bringing 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 climax of the 1870s, African Americans found themselves receiving less federal support for voting rights and undisturbed lives. When they look to the West, they see the land of the indigenous peoples, the amount of annuity payments and rights, and they want it themselves.

They were brought in droves by newspaper editorials, advertisements, and personal appeals from town promoters. According to the U.S. Census of 1894 and 1910, the black population of Indian territory increased from 19,000 to more than 80,000 between 1890 and 1907. Their existence has made Oklahoma the most black African American town in the United States, known as the “all black town.”As the black southerner Mildred Robertson put it, even though life is not perfect, “my people [formerly] Living at the bottom of Mississippi near Louisiana…they have more freedom in Oklahoma. “

Some black families became important, such as Titan, serial entrepreneur and financier OW Gurley, while others established a comfortable middle-class lifestyle for themselves and catered to them through auto repair shops, grocery stores, guest rooms and dental offices Black Tulsans, among other businesses, has created one of the wealthiest black areas in the country-hence the name “Black Wall Street”.

Some white Tulsan people don’t like this, and jealousy obviously exists, although racial violence didn’t become a big problem until after Oklahoma State in 1907. In 1921, a black teenager named Dick Rowland (Dick Rowland) shared an elevator with a white woman, and this began. She yelled and finally named the white Tulsans, including law enforcement, burning down buildings, and shooting women, men and children indiscriminately; Dick Rowland was the spark, but in There was a lot of lighting before that.

African-Americans flocked to Tulsa because they saw the free men of Creek and other blacks who had been enslaved by the Indians enjoying life and opportunities. In Indian territory, they have no white supremacy in the tribal government. This is the specific environment that makes Black Wall Street possible. But the Tulsa massacre reminds us that wherever white settlers go, so is their anger at the success of black people and the survival 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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