Black Wall Street
Editor: I was hoping someone else in last week’s papers would have reminded us about what occurred in Tulsa, because if we forget, it would be like what Mr. Edmund Burke would said “ Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”
Last Monday, 31st of May marked 100 years since the 1921 massacre of over 300 souls in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Greenwood business district, known as Black Wall street – a closed market system that defied the myth of Blacks’ mediocrity. It was proof that blacks can come together and prosper, unlike the more popular opinion that other ethnicities such as Chinese and Indians come together much more seamlessly. In Tulsa, blacks owned their own businesses- restaurants, schools, banks, bus Line, and a charter plane service where four of the businessmen of Greenwood had their own plane. Their money traded hands among themselves over ten times before it went into foreign banks. What they did was spreading fast, so much so that US capitalism was threatened by this little town, black folk was coming together and eventually would have taken over the US economy.
Perhaps it was an inspiration, in Kingstown St.Vincent and perhaps elsewhere, because that area in Middle Street from the vegetable market towards Rose Place was nicknamed Black Wall Street because the owners of businesses were predominantly black compared to the other side of the market.
According to a New York Times article published 24th May 2021, Entitled “ What the 1921 Tulsa race Massacre destroyed”, In Tulsa, Black Wall Street was burnt, more than 30 blocks of the business district and 1250 homes.
Racial healing starts with truth telling, Greenwood today, as part of the Centennial reminder, has committees set up to pave the way to help heal communities and start the journey to racial reconciliation. After the Black Wall street massacre, blacks coming together to expand economically have been a target, with programs in place to discourage such. No loans, incarceration of more blacks than any other race. They have seen what we are capable of and are scared.
Some may say, why remind us of such ugly history, but John Hope Franklin once said “ if the house is to be set in order, one cannot begin with the present, he must begin with the past”. If we forget about Tulsa, we may forget about Bloody Bay in our Grenadines, where the entire population of Union Island was chased to one end and massacred by the French. Today, not many Unionites know why the area was called Bloody bay. Same too, not many citizens of Oklahoma in their twenties, a mere few decades after the incident, know of the Tulsa massacre because it was hushed. Even today over 300 bodies are yet to be found. I trust Black Wall street would be an inspiration to remind us of what we are capable of once we are in Union.
Resident of Black Wall Street