Black Wall Street–100 years later

hostility-sculpture-in-tulsa-3910356_1920

Hostility Sculpture in Tulsa, Oklahoma

(Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

(Dr. Martin Luther King)

My first introduction to Black Wall Street came when I served as a panelist for a Florida State University (FSU) Black Student Union (BSU) program.  The students invited me to enhance their professional development program, but I got a history lesson I did not expect or know I needed.

I love working with college students because they bring a passion for subjects they are interested in and that passion keeps them curious and intent on growing daily. My role on the panel was to help BSU students understand how to present themselves when networking for future career opportunities.  We got that process going and had a good question and answer session with lots of input from the students in attendance.

One of the students present asked the moderator why the activities for the week was labeled Black Wall Street?  The response is where my education on the subject began.

The BSU leaders saw Black History Month as the perfect time to educate its members and guests on important periods, i.e., The Harlem Renaissance, Black Wall Street, Black Excellence and Black Power.  I was familiar with each of the periods identified for the month except Black Wall Street.  I assumed this was BSU’s way to show members how to build financial freedom and eventually make their way to Wall Street (NYC).  I was wrong and totally missed the boat on the meaning of Black Wall Street.

The BSU leadership wanted to show members how financial freedom could be gained by following the blueprint laid out by the founders of the true Black Wall Street in Greenwood, Oklahoma (Tulsa).  I had never heard of Black Wall Street, Greenwood, Oklahoma or the massacre that happened there in the early 1920’s.  My students were more than happy to fill me in on another history lesson I never received during my formal education programs—this seems to be a common theme with American history.

The concept a black town in Oklahoma was self-sufficient in the 1920’s seemed unreal at first but decided to learn more after talking with students.  I consider myself a lifelong learner and this was another educational journey I needed to fully see the great things that happened on Black Wall Street prior to the massacre.

O.W. Gurley was a prominent figure who relocated to the Greenwood district and purchased land which then could only be sold to people of color.  This was Gurley’s vision to establish a place for the black population.  Most of his businesses were frequented by black migrants fleeing the oppression of the Mississippi delta.  Gurley worked with others to pool their financial resources and support the thriving businesses being developed in Greenwood.  The residents of Black Wall Street were doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. The success of the black residents of Greenwood played a role in the 1921 massacre because of the jealousy of their white neighbors in nearby Tulsa.

My Black Wall Street education increased my knowledge of this important period of Black History and led me to dig deeper on the actual massacre.  The news program, 60 Minutes did a report on Black Wall Street and the massacre a few years ago.  This led to additional investigations and a team has been formed to find and excavate hidden graves to bring closure for descendants of the massacre victims.  This painful piece of American history continues to garner interest and my hope is we never experience something like this again.

Learn more about what happened in Greenwood here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/antoinegara/2020/06/18/the-bezos-of-black-wall-street-tulsa-race-riots-1921/#65183f08f321

60 Minutes program on Greenwood, Oklahoma:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA8t8PW-OkA

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own”.

(Michelle Obama)

Note:  This was a repost.  My mentor thought it was timely to put this in front of readers again.  It has been 100 years and this injustice is finally getting national attention.

Knowledge is power–Ms. Evers boys

blood-1813410_1920

(Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity”.

(Dalai Lama)

The Walk into the Future blog was able to expand to tackle racial injustice in 2020.  The COVID-19 pandemic has adjusted how we interact with others but 2020 provided additional opportunities for the world to view social justice from a new lens.

The younger generation calls this new view as being WOKE.  Merriam Webster.com identifies woke is increasingly used as a byword for social awareness.

The multiple instances of injustice we witnessed in 2020 AND past events provided the Walk into the Future blog with a new level of being woke—this platform has become a place for me to express frustrations, outrage, and fear.  It has also allowed me to learn about past injustices and how they impacted the lives of others who had to live through the experiences.

2020 provided an awakening to the continued injustices for folks like George Floyd, Breana Taylor, Ahmaud Abery and Jacob Blake.  Some if these injustices were recorded and we got a chance to see what really happened not what authorities wanted to hide from the public as they normally do. 

2020 also provided me with a level of curiosity to research past injustices to educate myself and readers about things most Americans had never heard about:  Black 14, Black Wall Street, Rosewood, Florida, and Why Black Lives Matter.  I was able to learn about each of these topics and generate a blog article to share what I discovered.  A lot of my blog followers had never heard of these and want to learn more—this allows me to keep looking for topics to help ensure these injustices are never forgotten and I am hopeful they will not be repeated.

Ms. Evers boys

Why are some minorities fearful of getting vaccines?

Seems like a simple question but the answer will surprise a lot of people who have never heard about the Tuskegee Study which ran from 1932 – 1972 before the unethical treatment of black men in Macon County, Alabama was ended.  The study (lab experiment) was conducted on 600 black men in the rural county, and they were told they had bad blood which was used to trick them into participating in the study. 

The study was designed to observe what happens with untreated syphilis in the body of black men. Let’s repeat that, the study was designed to see the impact of syphilis on black men who were never told what they had or if they were receiving an actual treatment to cure the disease (they were not).  The government used these men as lab subjects to see how the disease would ravage the human body.  No truth, no treatment, no compassion, and no concern for these men by the U.S. government.  Sounds just like what we witnessed in 2020, huh?

My first knowledge of this American experiment on black men was when the 1997 movie, Ms. Evers Boys was released.  This movie depicts the experiences of the black nurse who was brought in to help convince the men to continue to come in for treatment.  The term bad blood was suggested by Eunice Evers and was used to highlight the need for the men to come in to be treated.  The process continued even when it was discovered in 1947 that penicillin was an effective treatment for syphilis.  The government officials running the Tuskegee Study were not interested in curing the men but watching how the disease impacted the body of black men.

The Tuskegee Study experiment on black men was ended in 1972 when news articles were published detailing what the government was doing down in Alabama. 

A $10 million dollar settlement was reached in 1974 for the survivors and families of deceased study participants.  Imagine the physical and mental damage done to these people by the governmental study?

This is one study we know about. 

How many others has the American government conducted? 

Do you understand why some people are afraid of the American government vaccine programs? 

“Distrust and caution are the parents of security”.

(Benjamin Franklin)

Learn more here:

Black 14: Wyoming Football legacy

“He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it”.

(Plato)

My Walk into the Future for 2020 has been an interesting journey so far.  Not complaining because there are worse things in life than maintaining physical distance during a time of COVID-19.

The most interesting part has been the ability for me to find a new voice and interest in documenting injustices that are happening in plain sight in America.  The current news cycle seems to identify another racial injustice daily in America—that may be a slight exaggeration, but you may have to walk in my shoes to prove that.

My latest injustice knowledge came through a research show on ESPN titled the Black 14. I did not stop to watch the program initially because it centered around the University of Wyoming football team and I never had interest with anything in Wyoming.  Decided to sit a bit and see what the program was about since I could not make it to the beach due to bad weather—lucky me! 😊

The Black 14 were 14 black football players who were recruited to the University of Wyoming football team from every corner of America.  These players wanted to be a part of something different and chose to play football in Wyoming.  I later learned there initially were 17 black players on the team but 3 quit the team earlier.

The racial turmoil of 1969 made it out to Wyoming in the form of protests in and around the University of Wyoming campus.  The Black 14 were not part of the student organizations who protested injustices but wanted to take a stand against the racism of the Mormon church which founded Brigham Young University (BYU).

The Black 14 wanted to wear black armbands with the number 14 to signify unity when the University of Wyoming football team played against BYU.  The players decided to approach their head coach with the REQUEST to wear the arm bands during the game.  The coach saw this request from the Black 14 as a rebellion against him (white guy) and his authority. Again, the Black 14 went to ask permission to wear armbands.  Fast forward and the Black 14 were dismissed from the team because they were creating a fragmented locker room according to their coach.

Their dismissal was appealed but the Black 14 were still kicked off the team even with most of the students on-campus in support of what they wanted to do.  The Black 14 never got another chance to play for the University of Wyoming together again.  Some stayed around the campus and were let back on the team the following year.  Others made their way to smaller schools to complete their playing careers.  They never got an apology or full explanation of why they were kicked off the team.  A side note to this story is the University of Wyoming football program has never regained a national place in the college football world after the Black 14 were kicked off the team.  Karma is real!

Imagine you go to an authority figure to ask for permission for something but get kicked out for simply asking.  These men were damaged for just trying to do what others around the country could do freely.

Sadly, it took the University of Wyoming 50 years to issue a formal apology and welcome the Black 14 back to campus.  This is a start but imagine how these men felt over the past 50 years.  Happy they got their apology but makes me wonder how many other Black 14’s, Black 27’s, Black 3’s we never hear about.

2020 has proven to be my year of enlightenment and learning more about America.  There appears to be a lot left for me to learn.

“If you can’t eliminate injustice, at least tell everyone about it”.

(Shirin Ebadi)

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/black-14-kicked-wyoming-football-team-receives-apology-after-50-n1080671

 

Vote next week!

Black Wall Street

hostility-sculpture-in-tulsa-3910356_1920

Hostility Sculpture in Tulsa, Oklahoma

(Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

(Dr. Martin Luther King)

My first introduction to Black Wall Street came when I served as a panelist for a Florida State University (FSU) Black Student Union (BSU) program.  The students invited me to enhance their professional development program, but I got a history lesson I did not expect or know I needed.

I love working with college students because they bring a passion for subjects they are interested in and that passion keeps them curious and intent on growing daily. My role on the panel was to help BSU students understand how to present themselves when networking for future career opportunities.  We got that process going and had a good question and answer session with lots of input from the students in attendance.

One of the students present asked the moderator why the activities for the week was labeled Black Wall Street?  The response is where my education on the subject began.

The BSU leaders saw Black History Month as the perfect time to educate its members and guests on important periods, i.e., The Harlem Renaissance, Black Wall Street, Black Excellence and Black Power.  I was familiar with each of the periods identified for the month except Black Wall Street.  I assumed this was BSU’s way to show members how to build financial freedom and eventually make their way to Wall Street (NYC).  I was wrong and totally missed the boat on the meaning of Black Wall Street.

The BSU leadership wanted to show members how financial freedom could be gained by following the blueprint laid out by the founders of the true Black Wall Street in Greenwood, Oklahoma (Tulsa).  I had never heard of Black Wall Street, Greenwood, Oklahoma or the massacre that happened there in the early 1920’s.  My students were more than happy to fill me in on another history lesson I never received during my formal education programs—this seems to be a common theme with American history.

The concept a black town in Oklahoma was self-sufficient in the 1920’s seemed unreal at first but decided to learn more after talking with students.  I consider myself a lifelong learner and this was another educational journey I needed to fully see the great things that happened on Black Wall Street prior to the massacre.

O.W. Gurley was a prominent figure who relocated to the Greenwood district and purchased land which then could only be sold to people of color.  This was Gurley’s vision to establish a place for the black population.  Most of his businesses were frequented by black migrants fleeing the oppression of the Mississippi delta.  Gurley worked with others to pool their financial resources and support the thriving businesses being developed in Greenwood.  The residents of Black Wall Street were doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. The success of the black residents of Greenwood played a role in the 1921 massacre because of the jealousy of their white neighbors in nearby Tulsa.

My Black Wall Street education increased my knowledge of this important period of Black History and led me to dig deeper on the actual massacre.  The news program, 60 Minutes did a report on Black Wall Street and the massacre a few years ago.  This led to additional investigations and a team has been formed to find and excavate hidden graves to bring closure for descendants of the massacre victims.  This painful piece of American history continues to garner interest and my hope is we never experience something like this again.

Learn more about what happened in Greenwood here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/antoinegara/2020/06/18/the-bezos-of-black-wall-street-tulsa-race-riots-1921/#65183f08f321

60 Minutes program on Greenwood, Oklahoma:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA8t8PW-OkA

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own”.

(Michelle Obama)