Tag Archives: Black Wall Street

On This Day: The Massacre Of Black Wall Street

462_160I am very glad that John Legend is bringing the story of horror to the movie screen for all to see. This story like the Nat Turner story should be seen and understood like many other atrocities that have been hidden for far too long. These stories and many others are not taught or even spoken about for the people who inflicted the pain and evil upon black people that would make Hitler blushI’m the author of the phenomenal novel “Just a Season” titled from the religious knowledge referring to a period of time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon called life. During this passage through time I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that we must encounter. This speaks loudly to the challenges of black people in America.

“Black Wall Street” is a history lesson that may cause some not to believe something so dastardly could happen in America. It is intended to inspire, enlighten, empower, and share the history of a people at a time when the odds were against all odds. It was during a time called segregation when Jim Crow ruled and separate but equal was the law of the land. Because of this de facto Apartheid-like system African American were forced to live in communities dependent upon each other in order to survive and survive they did. Every town had such a place and during this series of articles, I will visit those communities to sharing their rich histories.

Let me ask you never forget – Tulsa Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street” and what white folk did to this community. The name was fittingly given to the most affluent all-black community in America. This community was the epitome of success proving that African Americans had a successful infrastructure known as the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900’s. Although, it was in an unusual location Black Wall Street was a prime example of the typical Black community in America that did business far beyond expectations.

Let me explain, the state of Oklahoma was set aside to be a Black and Indian state that included over 28 Black townships. Another point worth noting, nearly a third of the people who traveled in the terrifying “Trail of Tears” alongside the Indians from 1830 to 1842 were Black people. The citizens of Oklahoma chose a Black governor; there were PhD’s, Black attorneys, doctors and professionals from all walks of life contributing to the successful development of this community. One such luminous figure was Dr. Berry, who also owned the bus system generating an average income of $500 a day in 1910. During this time physicians owned medical schools to empower and develop African Americans.

The area encompassed 36 square blocks, over 600 businesses with a population of 15,000 African Americans. There were pawn shops everywhere, brothels, jewelry stores, churches, restaurants and movie theaters. Their success was monumentally evident in that the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six Blacks owned their own planes. Just to show how wealthy many Black people were, there was a banker in a neighboring town who had a wife named California Taylor. Her father owned the largest cotton gin west of the Mississippi. When California shopped, she would take a cruise to Paris every three months to have her clothes made.

There was also a man named Mason in nearby Wagner County, who had the largest potato farm in the west. When he harvested, he would fill 100 boxcars a day. Another Black man not far away was doing the same thing with a spinach farm. The typical family averaged five children or more, though the typical farm family would have ten kids or more who made up the nucleus of the labor.

What was significant about Black Wall Street was they understood an important principle – they kept the money in the community. The dollars circulated 36 to 1000 times within the community, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Something the African America community of today does not fully appreciate or practice because a dollar will leave the Black community today in 15 minutes. This community was so tight and wealthy because they traded dollars hand-to-hand because they were dependent upon one another as a result of Jim Crow laws.

Another powerful image, and extremely significant, was education. The foundation of the community was to educate every child because they understood that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. When students went to school, they wore a suit and tie because of the morals and respect they were taught at a young age. Also, nepotism contributed greatly to the success of this community as a way to help one another – a tactic that needs to be instilled in our culture today.

A postscript to Tulsa’s legacy is the world renowned R&B music group the GAP Band. The group of brothers Charlie, Ronnie & Robert Wilson, chose the group’s name taken from the first letters of the main thoroughfare Greenwood Avenue that intersects with Archer and Pine Streets; from those letters you get G.A.P. Another legendary figure from Tulsa is their favorite son, basketball great and jazz musician the late Wayman Tisdale. These are just a few luminaries that Tulsa has produced, surely the most recognized today.

An unprecedented amount of global business was conducted from within the Black Wall Street community, which flourished from the early 1900 until 1921. Then the unthinkable happened, and the community faced a valley or more accurately stated fell off a cliff. The Black Wall Street community suffered the largest massacre of non-military Americans in the history of this country. As you might well imagine, the lower-economic Europeans looked over and saw how prosperous the Black community had become and destroyed it. I don’t know the true reason; jealousy was mentioned, but racism was certainly at its core. Lead by the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in concert with ranking city officials, and many other sympathizers.

The destruction began Tuesday evening, June 1, 1921, when “Black Wall Street,” the most affluent all-black community in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of resentful whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving Black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering. A model community destroyed and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused. The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among them were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even the bus system.

You would think this historic event would be common knowledge, but not so. One would be hard-pressed to find any documentation concerning the incident, let alone an accurate accounting of it. Not in any reference or any American history books documenting the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. This night of horror was unimaginable. Try if you will to imagine seeing 1,500 homes being burned and looted, while white families with their children standing around the borders of the community watching the massacre much, in the same manner, they would watch a lynching. It must have been beyond belief for the victims.

I wonder if you are aware of this little-known history fact; this is where the word “picnic” came from? It was typical to have a picnic on a Friday evening in Oklahoma. The word was short for “pick a nigger” to lynch. They would lynch a Black male and cut off body parts as souvenirs. This went on every weekend in many parts of the country with thousands lynched in the first part of the last century. Unfortunately, that is where the word actually came from.

The riots weren’t caused by anything Black or white. It was caused as a result of Black prosperity. A lot of white folks had come back from World War I and they were poor. When they looked over into the Black Wall Street community and saw that Black men who fought in the war came home as heroes also contributed to the destruction. It cost the Black community everything – justice and reconciliation are often incompatible goals because not a single dime of restitution was ever provided, to include no insurance claims have been awarded to a single victim.

As I began, there are milestones, mountains, and valleys which surely encompassed this community and its people. This is why it is so important to teach these lessons because those who neglect the lessons of the past are doomed to see it repeated. Life is not a race you run, it is a relay and it is your responsibility to pass the baton. Our youth, the next generation, must be prepared and know when they look at our communities today that they came from a people who built kingdoms. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Source:
“A Black Holocaust in America.”
Ron Wallace, Jay Jay Wilson

JUST A SEASON


The Rosewood Massacre

350_160Since this place called America came into existence, there have been many unspeakable acts of terror inflicted on non white folk, but of course, those people denied that it happened. These crimes were particularly harsh on black people and their communities – that is if you call the places where they lived communities! History report of such violent acts of destruction in Tulsa (Black Wall Street) in 1921 and Philadelphia (MOVE) as recent as the 1980s as well as many places during segregation and slavery! Not to forget the horrible racist founded the KKK!

However, there is the Rosewood massacre that was a violent, racially motivated massacre of blacks and destruction of a black town that took place during the first week of January 1923 in rural Levy County, Florida. At least six blacks and two whites were killed, and the town of Rosewood was abandoned and destroyed in what contemporary news reports characterized as a race riot. Racial disturbances were common during the early 20th century in the United States, reflecting the nation’s rapid social changes. Florida had an especially high number of lynchings of black males in the years before the massacre, including a well-publicized incident in December 1922.

Prior to the massacre, the town of Rosewood had been a quiet, primarily black, self-sufficient whistle stop on the Seaboard Air Line Railway. As was usually the case the trouble began when white men from several nearby towns lynched a black Rosewood resident because of unsupported accusations that a white woman in nearby Sumner had been beaten and possibly raped by a black drifter.

When the town’s black citizens rallied together to defend themselves against further attacks, a mob of several hundred whites combed the countryside hunting for black people, and burned almost every structure in Rosewood. Survivors from the town hid for several days in nearby swamps until they were evacuated by train and car to larger towns. Although state and local authorities were aware of the violence, no arrests were made for what happened in Rosewood. The town was abandoned by its former black residents; none ever moved back.

Although the rioting was widely reported around the United States at the time, few official records documented the event. Survivors, their descendants, and the perpetrators remained silent about Rosewood for decades. Sixty years after the rioting, the story of Rosewood was revived in major media when several journalists covered it in the early 1980s. Survivors and their descendants organized to sue the state for having failed to protect Rosewood’s black community.

In 1993, the Florida Legislature commissioned a report on the massacre. As a result of the findings, Florida became the first U.S. state to compensate survivors and their descendants for damages incurred because of racial violence. The incident was the subject of a 1997 feature film directed by John Singleton. In 2004, the state designated the site of Rosewood as a Florida Heritage Landmark. Officially, the recorded death toll of the first week of January 1923 was six blacks and two whites. Historians disagree about this number.

Some survivors’ stories claim there may have been up to 27 black residents killed, and assert that newspapers did not report the total number of white deaths. Minnie Lee Langley, who was in the Carrier house siege, recalls that she stepped over many white bodies on the porch when she left the house. Several eyewitnesses claim to have seen a mass grave filled with black people; one remembers a plow brought from Cedar Key that covered 26 bodies. Others claimed as many as 150 people were killed.

However, by the time authorities investigated these claims, most of the witnesses were dead, or too elderly and infirm to lead them to a site to confirm the stories. The State of Florida declared Rosewood a Florida Heritage Landmark in 2004 and subsequently erected a historical marker on State Road 24 that names the victims and describes the community’s destruction. Scattered structures remain within the community, including a church, a business, and a few homes, notably John Wright’s home. Robie Mortin, the last survivor, died on June 12, 2010, at age 94 after a brief illness.

Rosewood descendants formed the Rosewood Heritage Foundation and the Real Rosewood Foundation to educate people in Florida and all over the world. The Rosewood Heritage Foundation created a traveling exhibit that tours internationally to share the history of Rosewood and the attacks; a permanent display is housed in the library of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. The Real Rosewood Foundation presents a variety of humanitarian awards to people in Central Florida who help preserve Rosewood’s history. The organization also recognized Rosewood residents who protected blacks during the attacks by presenting an Unsung Heroes Award to the descendants of Sheriff Robert Walker, John Bryce, and William Bryce.

The moral of the story black people must remember and tell their stories of tragedy and terror. Regardless of the struggle to tell the stories of such terror; they must be told to empower future generation and to prove the wretchedness of the savages that committed the crimes over the years because a lot of people don’t want to hear about this kind of history or truth. White people, particularly, don’t relate to the sins of their fathers, or just deny it happened. Keep it alive, keep telling the sad, horrible stories, black people need the stories of Rosewood, and all the others need to be told and remembered! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Never Forget

th-26Tomorrow is the anniversary of 911 to which we asked us never to forget. I can understand why because of the patriotism aspect of it; we have been at war since the event occurred! I learned a long time ago that if you follow the money, you will always get the right answer. With respect and regard to 911, someone has gotten, they say, about six trillion dollars as a result.

They want us to remember 911, the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, Columbus Day or any number of things that affected the so called “Real Americans” – translation “white folk”! I would suggest, and with all due respect, that they would consider putting the same significance on the many horrible events of the past like the Middle Passage, Slavery, Hurricane Katrina, the bombing of Black Wallstreet, and what “they did to the Native Americans.” These are crimes that should also we should never be forgotten, but they are hardly mentioned! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


We Must Never Forget What Happened In Tulsa, Oklahoma

2I am the author of the phenomenal novel “Just a Season”. The title is derived from the religious knowledge referring to a period of time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon called life. During this passage through time, I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that all of us must encounter. This speaks loudly to the challenges of black people.

There are so many acts terror inflicted upon black people that honestly are too numerous to count. White folks, however, erase those horrible crimes and murder from the pages of history and never talk about the sins of the fathers. This heartbreaking story is one that is never mentioned or talked about but it happened and to this day no redress has been afforded to the victims.

The story of “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma was where America bombed a proud and thriving community during a time called segregation. It was during a time when Jim Crow ruled and separate but equal was the law of the land. It was because of this de facto Apartheid-like system black people, were forced to live in communities dependent upon each other in order to survive – and survive they did. At the time, this was the law of the land, and every town had such a place; be it Upton in Baltimore, the Black Bottom in Detroit, or the most famous of them all Harlem USA.

The name “Black Wall Street” was fittingly given; it was the most affluent all-black community in America at the time. This community was the epitome of success proving that black people had a successful infrastructure known as the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900’s. Although, it was in an unusual location Black Wall Street was a prime example of the typical Black community in America that did business far beyond expectations.

Let me explain, the state of Oklahoma was set aside to be a Black and Indian state that included over 28 Black townships. Another point worth noting, nearly a third of the people who traveled on the terrifying “Trail of Tears” alongside the Indians from 1830 to 1842 were Black people. The citizens of Oklahoma chose a Black governor; there were Ph.D.’s, Black attorneys, doctors and professionals from all walks of life contributing to the successful development of this community. One such luminous figure was Dr. Berry, who also owned the bus system generating an average income of $500 a day in 1910. During this time, physicians owned medical schools to empower and develop African Americans.

The area known as Black Wall Street encompassed 36 square blocks, over 600 businesses with a population of 15,000 black people. There were pawn shops everywhere, brothels, jewelry stores, churches, restaurants and movie theaters. Their success was monumentally evident in that the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six Blacks owned their own planes. Just to show how wealthy many Black people were, there was a banker in a neighboring town who had a wife named California Taylor. Her father owned the largest cotton gin west of the Mississippi. When California shopped, she would take a cruise to Paris every three months to have her clothes made.

There was also a man named Mason in nearby Wagner County, who had the largest potato farm in the west. When he harvested, he would fill 100 boxcars a day. Another Black man not far away was doing the same thing with a spinach farm. The typical family averaged five children or more, although the typical farm family would have ten kids or more that made up the nucleus of the labor.

What was significant about Black Wall Street was that the black citizens understood an important principle – they kept the money in the community. The dollars circulated 36 to 1000 times within the community, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Something the black community of today does not fully appreciate or practice because a dollar will leave the black community today in 15 minutes. This community was so tight and wealthy because they traded dollars hand-to-hand because they were dependent upon one another, as a result, of Jim Crow laws.

Another powerful image that was extremely significant was education. The foundation of the community was to educate every child because they understood that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. When students went to school, they wore a suit and ties because of the morals and respect they were taught at a young age. In addition, nepotism contributed greatly to the success of this community as a way to help one another – a tactic that needs to be instilled in our culture today.

A postscript to Tulsa’s legacy is the world renowned R&B music group the GAP Band. The group of brothers Charlie, Ronnie & Robert Wilson, chose the group’s name taken from the first letters of the main thoroughfare Greenwood Avenue that intersects with Archer and Pine Streets; from those letters you get G.A.P. Another legendary figure from Tulsa is their favorite son, basketball great and jazz musician the late Wayman Tisdale. These are just a few luminaries that Tulsa has produced; surely the most recognized today.

An unprecedented amount of global business was conducted from within the Black Wall Street community, which flourished from early 1900 until 1921. Then the unthinkable happened, and the community faced a valley or more accurately stated fell off a cliff. The Black Wall Street community suffered the largest massacre of nonmilitary Americans in the history of this country.

As you might well imagine, the lower economic whites looked over and saw how prosperous the black community had become, and they destroyed it. I don’t know the true reason; jealousy was mentioned, but racism was certainly at its core. Lead by the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in concert with ranking city officials, and many other sympathizers.

The terror and destruction began Tuesday evening, June 1, 1921, when “Black Wall Street,” was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of resentful whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving Black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering. A model community was destroyed, and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused. The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among them were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, bank, post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even the bus system.

You would think this historic event would be common knowledge, but not so. One would be hard-pressed to find any documentation concerning the incident, let alone an accurate accounting of it. Not in any reference or any American history books documenting the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. This night of horror was unimaginable. Try if you can – imagine seeing 1,500 homes burned and looted while white families with their children standing around the borders of the community watching the massacre much in the same manner they would watch a lynching. It must have been beyond belief for the victims.

I wonder if you are aware of this little-known history fact; where the word “picnic” came from. It was typical to have a picnic on a Friday evening in Oklahoma as it was in many American towns. The word was short for “pick a nigger” to lynch. They would lynch a Black male and cut off body parts as souvenirs. This went on every weekend in many parts of the country with thousands lynched in the first part of the last century. Unfortunately, that is where the word came from.

The riots weren’t caused by anything Black or white. It was caused, as a result, of Black prosperity. A lot of white folks had come back from World War I, and they were poor. When they looked over into the Black Wall Street community and saw that Black men who fought in the war came home as heroes also contributed to the destruction. It cost the Black community everything – justice and reconciliation are often incompatible goals because not a single dime of restitution was ever provided, to include no insurance claims have been awarded to a single victim.

As I began, there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that surely encompassed this community and its people. This is why it is so important to teach these lessons because those who neglect the lessons of the past are doomed to see it repeated. Life is not a race you run; it is a relay, and it is your responsibility to pass the baton. Our youth, the next generation, must be prepared and know when they look at our communities today that they know they came from a people who built kingdoms. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

THE STORY OF BLACK PEOPLE – they don’t know about us!!!


The Horrors of Racism

We know about some of the horrible atrocities that have been inflected upon African Americans overtime. Of course, one of the most horrendous of them or what history has recorded as Black Wall Street that suffered the largest massacre of non-military Americans in the America’s history. The destruction of this community began Tuesday evening, June 1, 1921, when “Black Wall Street,” the most affluent all-black community in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of resentful whites.

In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering. A model community destroyed and a major Africa-American economic movement resoundingly defused. The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among them were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even the bus system.

This historic event, you would think should be common knowledge – but not so. One would be hard-pressed to find any documentation concerning the incident, let alone an accurate accounting of it. Not in any reference or American history book documenting the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. This night of horror was unimaginable. Try if you will to imagine seeing 1,500 homes being burned and looted, while white families with their children standing around the borders of the community watching the massacre much in the same manner they would watch a lynching. It must have been beyond belief for the victims.

Full Black Wall Street Story

Many such events were witnessed and often enjoyed by the culprits for entertainment. I wonder if you were aware of this little known history fact: what the word “picnic” meant in America’s racial lexicon? It was typical to have a picnic on a Friday evening somewhere in America. The word was short for “pick a nigger” to lynch. They would lynch a Black male and cut off body parts as souvenirs. This went on every weekend in many parts of the country with thousands lynched in the first part of the last century.

I came across another incident that occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1927. There was a racial riot that erupted over the lynching of John Carter, a black man who was the fall guy for the homicide of a 12-year old white girl named Floella McDonald. The child was found in First Presbyterian Church. Originally, the blame fell on the church janitor who found the girl along with his mixed-race son. The men were safely moved to a Texarkana jail before a mob demanded blood.

In a nearby city, a 38-year-old black man named John Carter had been accused of assaulting a white woman and her daughter. The angry white mob of 5,000 people found Carter, hung him from a pole, shot him and drug him through the streets. They took him to the black community and incited a riot, breaking into buildings, including a furniture retail store. The mob piled the wooden furniture and doors from the church together, set it on fire and burned Carter’s body at the intersection of 9th and Broadway.

The Arkansas National Guard was deployed to stop the riot, and upon arrival, found one of the mob members directing traffic at the intersection with the arm of John Carter. Fortunately, the black community leader had encouraged black families to stay inside, avoiding a large death toll during the massive tension.

Once the riot and killing of Carter went to trial, it was dismissed without indictment of anyone involved. The city was concerned about their national reputation in the media. They banned distribution of the black newspapers, The Chicago Defender and The Pittsburgh Courier, with fear that it would cause more tension.

To make matters worse, the town was still in search of the killer of 12-year-old Floella McDonald. On May 19th, Lonnie Dixon, the mixed-race son of the First Presbyterian Church janitor, was tried and convicted of murder. He was sentenced to death. After being under watch by the Arkansas National Guard during trial, Dixon was executed a month later. (Source: blackamericaweb)

There are milestones, mountains, and valleys that have encompassed the African American story to which I proudly say is the “Greatest Story Ever Told”. We must never forget for if we neglect the lessons of the past we are doomed to see them repeated. Life is not a race you run; it is a relay, and it is our responsibility to pass the baton. Our youth, the next generation, must be prepared and know when they look at our communities today that they came from a people who built kingdoms.

Let me leave you with this very simple idea. There are 42 million Black people identified in the 2010 Census, which makes up 13.6 percent of the total U.S. population. Suppose a contribution of $4.00 a week was place in a fund. Multiply that $4.00 x 4 weeks = $16.00 x 12= $ 192.00, then $192.00 x half all African Americans 20 million =’s $3,840,000,000.00. Understand that’s only half the African American population; now multiply that nearly four trillion times five. Get the point.

If this simply mathematical equation could be achieved – all of the ills of our culture could be erased. Hmmmm. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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