Black Wall Street

BLACK WALL STREET

$10.00

Poster 11×17

The “Black (Negro) Wall Street” was the name given to Greenwood Avenue of North Tulsa, Oklahoma during the early 1900’s. Because of strict segregation, Blacks were only allowed to shop, spend, and live in a 35 square block area called the Greenwood District. The “circulation of Black dollars” only in the Black community produced a tremendously prosperous Black business district that was admired and envied by the whole country.

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In 1921, the Greenwood Avenue district of Tulsa, Oklahoma was an exemplar of what a motivated African American middle class could accomplish. Dubbed, “The Negro Wall Street,” Greenwood Avenue was populated by successful African American families, businesses, hospitals and churches. All this would change on May 31. A young black man was accused of attempting to rape a white woman in a Tulsa elevator.

Later, a rumor flew through the community that a lynch party was forming. Several young black men formed a defense party. At the courthouse they encountered a group of white men. Strong words (and some say bullets) were let loose. A pitched gun battle began right there on the spot. Soon, the white rioters forgot about their immediate targets and concentrated on sooting and burning Greenwood Avenue. The mayor had to call in the National Guard from Oklahoma City to end the violence.

In the aftermath, dozens of people, black and white, were dead. The exact body count is still unknown. Greenwood Avenue was completely gone; burned to the ground. Fortunately, many residents refused to be scared away by the riots, and rebuilt the neighborhood. The scars from the ordeal, however, haunt many African American residents of Tulsa to this day.

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