Observations of an Invisible Woman

The Bombing of Little Africa

Black Wall Street: The True Story

Kushite Prince:

I’ve always believed that black folks need to do for self. We need to have our own schools, businesses and black banking system independent of whites. We really don’t need white folks, we can survive on our own.

When I learned of Black Wall Street, I wept openly. I cried for my people who had defied all odds and succeeded. I cried for that baby who was separated from his parents never to be found in the fire. I cried for the ransacked homes and the mass killings on the streets of Greenwood. I cried for the women who watched their men be lynched and burned. I cried for the little boys who watched their mothers get raped while the white racists laughed and taunted him. And I bawled because once…in this lifetime, blacks were millionaires. Respectable, wealthy Africans who owned businesses, airplanes, banks, schools and churches.

May God have mercy on their souls.

Searching under the heading of “riots,” “Oklahoma” and “Tulsa” in current editions of the World Book Encyclopedia, there is conspicuously no mention whatsoever of the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and this omission is by no means a surprise, or a rare case. The fact is, one would also be hard-pressed to find documentation of the incident, let alone and accurate accounting of it, in any other “scholarly” reference or American history book.

That’s precisely the point that noted author, publisher and orator Ron Wallace, a Tulsa native, sought to make nearly five years ago when he began researching this riot, one of the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. Ultimately joined on the project by colleague Jay Wilson of Los Angeles, the duo found and compiled indisputable evidence of what they now describe as “a Black holocaust in America.”

The date was June 1, 1921, when “Black Wall Street,” the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-Black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving 36-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 these 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 a bus system. As could have been expected the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials, and many other sympathizers.

In their self-published book, Black Wallstreet: A Lost Dream, and its companion video documentary, Black Wallstreet: A Black Holocaust in America!, the authors have chronicled for the very first time in the words of area historians and elderly survivors what really happened there on that fateful summer day in 1921 and why it happened. Wallace similarly explained to me why this bloody event from the turn of the century seems to have had a recurring effect that is being felt in predominately Black neighborhoods even to this day.

The best description of Black Wallstreet, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be liken it to a mini-Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African Americans had successful infrastructure. That’s what Black Wallstreet was all about. The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now in 1995, a dollar leaves the Black community in 15-minutes. As far as resources, there were Ph.D.’s residing in Little Africa, Black attorneys and doctors. One doctor was Dr. Berry who owned the bus system. His average income was $500 a day, a hefty pocket change in 1910. During that era, physicians owned medical schools. There were also pawn shops everywhere, brothels, jewelry stores, 21 churches, 21 restaurants and two movie theaters. It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six Blacks owned their own planes. It was a very fascinating community.

The area encompassed over 600 businesses and 36 square blocks with a population of 15,000 African Americans. And when the lower-economic Europeans looked over and saw what the Black community created, many of them were jealous. When the average student went to school on Black Wallstreet, he wore a suit and tie because of the morals and respect they were taught at a young age.

The mainstay of the community was to educate every child. Nepotism was the one word they believed in. And that’s what we need to get back to in 1995. The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Avenue, and it was intersected by Archer and Pine Streets. From the first letters in each of those three names, you get G.A.P., and that’s where the renowned R and B music group the Gap Band got its name. They’re from Tulsa.

Black Wallstreet was a prime example of the typical Black community in America that did businesses, but it was in an unusual location. You see, at the time, Oklahoma was set aside to be a Black and Indian state. There were over 28 Black townships there. One third of the people who traveled in the terrifying “Trail of Tears” along side the Indians between 1830 to 1842 were Black people. The citizens of this proposed Indian and Black state chose a Black governor, a treasurer from Kansas named McDade. But the Ku Klux Klan said that if he assumed office that they would kill him within 48 hours. A lot of Blacks owned farmland, and many of them had gone into the oil business. The community was so tight and wealthy because they traded dollars hand-to-hand, and because they were dependent upon one another as a result of the Jim Crow laws.

It was not unusual that if a resident’s home accidentally burned down, it could be rebuilt within a few weeks by neighbors. This was the type of scenario that was going on day- to-day on Black Wallstreet. When Blacks intermarried into the Indian culture, some of them received their promised ’40 acres and a mule’ and with that came whatever oil was later found on the properties.

Just to show you how wealthy a lot of Black people were, there was a banker in the neighboring town who had a wife named California Taylor. Her father owned the largest cotton gin west of the Mississippi [River]. 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 west of the Mississippi. When he harvested, he would fill 100 boxcars a day. Another brother not far away had the same thing with a spinach farm. The typical family then was five children or more, though the typical farm family would have 10 kids or more who made up the nucleus of the labor.

On Black Wallstreet, a lot of global business was conducted. The community flourished from the early 1900s until June 1, 1921. That’s when the largest massacre of non-military Americans in the history of this country took place, and it was lead by the Ku Klux Klan. Imagine walking out of your front door and seeing 1,500 homes being burned. It must have been amazing.

Survivors we interviewed think that the whole thing was planned because during the time that all of this was going on, white families with their children stood around the borders of their community and watched the massacre, the looting and everything–much in the same manner they would watch a lynching.

In my lectures I ask people if they understand where the word “picnic” comes 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 this country, and it was all across the county. That’s where the term really came from.

{ recopied from Black Wall Street Freeservers.com }

Please make time to watch this documentary….it’s long, about 2 hours. Please, please, please educated yourself on our history.

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33 thoughts on “The Bombing of Little Africa

  1. Pingback: The Bombing of Little Africa | Innerstanding Isness

  2. great post, i knew of this horrific tragedy, everyone needs to know

  3. White people are a real piece of shit. I feel bad that I won´t be around to witness what happens when their shit finally hits the fan and they get their just deserts.

  4. I heard about this back in the 90s when I was just starting college. I saw a documentary on it once. A movie should be made about this and not a wishy-washy, sanitized version of it.

  5. Negress, thanks so much for posting this. And I say thank you because…I forgot.

    I forgot about Black Wall Street. I remember learning about this for the first time in college. I was in my African- American history class and I remember feeling both surprised and relieved that something like this existed; obviously surprised because I never heard of it, and relieved because our history truly wasn’t all chains and shacks.
    Imagine that.

    Now I’m reading about this wonderful part of our history again after 8 years of cultural amnesia. (I guiltily suffer from this, lest the reason I’m here). And I’m not exaggerating when I say that I grieve over this.
    I grieve because Black Wall Street, with all its glory, is a gem in the soil, a diamond in the dirt of the times. Yet all we hear – or I’ll speak for myself – all I hear, is how poor we are, how uneducated we are, how ignorant we are and how incompetent we are. And statistics will be quoted, and graphs drawn, and books written (Bell Curve) on how limited we are (and historically have been).
    It’s such a lie.

    I always wonder, and I mean always, how folk from different countries can come to the U.S. and start up businesses, making profits and leaving legacies for generations and we do not. I always wonder why it’s primarily the Asians who profit off of us and not ourselves, unless you’d like to count those weaves and allergenic jewelry as profit. I always wonder how Koreans and the Chinese and the East Indians with their 7-11s can come here and erect their own “Wall Street” and we do not.
    What’s happened since 1912? Has integration been both a blessing and a curse for us?
    I wonder about that.

    To outsiders, especially to whites, we’re seen as a people who are dependent. We’re seen as dependent children who, unless we’re gripped and led by the hand of our parent (whites), can’t stand & walk alone.
    It’s grievous to me.

    Thank you for posting this, because I did forget, much to my shame. (This is why I began visiting blogs like yours.)

    I’m gonna watch the video.

  6. As a side note, I just want to emphasize that when I made the comment about Asians and East Indians profiting off of the Black community, I didn’t mean it as an insult to them. After all, in this country capitalism rules and it’s the method that creates wealth for generations of families.
    So good for them.

  7. @ Everyone

    The one thing that this slice of hidden African history tells me is white people cannot tolerate blacks doing well. Not only does it cause severe pain and suffering but the insanity takes over and they turn to violence.

    If any moment in time shows the true nature of whites ( except the transatlantic slave trade ), this tragedy is it.

  8. I’m agreeing with you here.

    Someone mentioned on this blog before that white people need us.
    I am truly beginning to believe this.
    They need us to keep their balloon-like ego inflated; we are the air that keeps it riding.
    They feed off of our supposed inferiority; they’re like vampires that suck the blood out of the body of the African-American community.
    We’re like pornography to them: outwardly they contempt us and frown upon us, but in secret they indulge in us and are addicted to us, hence the obsessiveness about us.
    This is becoming glaringly obvious to me as I read more, watch more and listen more.

    My only conflict about my conclusion is, I don’t know if this pertains to all whites or just some.

  9. @ Alegna

    Blacks survived just fine without Europeans. For Centuries.

    Whites cannot live/ survive/ thrive/ get wealth on their own. History NEVER lies.

  10. But as you can see, the minute Black people do for themselves, tragedy strikes. And then the lies begin all over again.

    There used to be over 30 all-Black townships in the American West & Southwest after the Civil War. They Black townships were more prosperous than the White townships. Instead of going over to the Black townships and asking how they became successful and gained tips for themselves, they took over or tried to take over instead.

  11. Remember that scene in “Mississippi Burning” when Gene Hackman’s character tells the other one about his father and what he did to his neighbor’s farm animal?

    The Black farmer was doing better than the White farmer, so he bought another farm animal to tend to his land. The next thing you know, the animal was poisoned and died. As a result, the Black farmer sold his farm and moved away. Hackman’s character, as a child, knew that his father killed the Black farmer’s animal and he said to him, “If you can’t be better than a nigger, who can you be better than.” That is the mentality of some of these sick, twisted fucks.

  12. @Negress

    When black people are free to be themselves, white folks get mad. This is white racism in a nutshell. Blacks in Tulsa were refined folk who did not need crumbs from the whiteman’s table, and it scared the s**t out of them. The upward mobility of blacks was a direct threat to whitemen. Think about it black people? Blackmen are free, educated, self-loving, self-motivated, in other words, whitewomen will desire to be with them. Again, sex and whitewomen are always involved when whitemen commit inhumane acts such as the (Tulsa Riots)…Always! The same fear is around today as well. As long as we’re unrefined, whites can exploit us for their own gain. If they can’t enjoy blackness on a personal level and enrich themselves as well, they hate it. Again, whites are never gonna be happy, so, blacks should not waste time trying to be liked by a race that doesn’t like itself…Ditto!


  13. @ Mickey

    Yes, I remember that scene. It was truth that I’ll never forget.

  14. @Alegna

    Racial Envy is the foundation of white misery. Sistas, it’s as simple as that.


  15. @ Ty:

    That desire to be black once again coupled with defiant white pride is quite confusing for me. I’m trying to understand it.

  16. Can someone give me a short list of excellent books to read?

  17. @ alegna

    A post on books coming soon.

  18. Kushite Prince on said:

    Thanks for the quote shout out sis. This is a story that many don’t know about. I’ve asked blacks and whites about it–many have no idea what Black Wallstreet was. And the whites they do know try to keep it hidden. Mainly because it exposes how racist they truly are at their core. They don’t want us to prosper unless they benefit from it. They want us here to make money for their prisons and to humiliate us at every turn. They don’t give a damn about us or our children. They have showed us time and time again that they HATE us. When will we wake up to this reality? Black Wallstreet proves that we can do for self. We have black lawyers,doctors,school teachers,scientists,mechanics etc. We don’t NEED them to survive. I think we should give it another try. They’re already killing us on the streets and denying us employment at every turn. What have we got to lose? Here’s another great book about the history of Black Wallstreet you might like.


  19. Excellent post. I’ll see about reblogging. We do not recognize what we can accomplish. That’s one problem.

  20. mary burrell on said:

    Excellent post.Bravo Brother Prince and Sister Truth. That was excellent. I heard about this several years ago from a brother that was in the arts and theater here in our city. He wanted to do a play about it. This is not mentioned in the history books or encyclopedias or any refrence books. My god what else are they hiding from us? Yes I too like Alegna wondered how imigrants can come here and prosper in our communties off of us and they hate our guts. They don’t use the products that they sell to us. And to add insult to injury they are rude to us. But we tolerate this, so I guess until someone learns how to have their own successful businesses. This will always be the case. We have the resources. If we were’nt so caught up in spending our money on foolishness we would be prosperous. But good looking out Kushite Prince and Sister Truth. That was a very well written and informative piece.

  21. mary burrell on said:

    This reminds me of Rosewood. That was in the state of Florida. Again the reference books will not print these horrendous atrocites that happened in this country. I think the white people just don’t want to admit that these things really happpened here.

  22. Miss Mary

    The Asians who come here get govt. Grants to start up businesses in black neighborhoods. But blacks cannot get grants for the same purpose.

    Its all being done to keep us from succeeding. Like removing shop from high school.

  23. mary burrell on said:

    Another question why can’t black people get in on the import export business the Asians and Indians have that business on lock down. There was one sister in my citiy that had her on nail salon but the Koreans have all the business. Now the Middle Eastern immigrants the Iranians and Indians are cleaning up with the eyebrow threading salons. Blacks need to wake up and tighten up.

  24. Kushite Prince on said:

    Thank you Mary. However I can not take any credit for this great writing. This post all came from the great mind of Sister Truth. But I do thank you for the kind words.

  25. mary burrell on said:

    Ok so i get it they are just opressing us and trying to keep us down. All they want to talk about is our failures and how we are such losers and under achievers. That’s how I knew when that Bell Curve b.s. came out, I knew white supremist did’nt just look like red neck Bubba and wear their pillow cases and bed sheets to terrorize us. The white supremist wears a Brooks Brothers suit and comes from an Ivy League school. Sometimes he/she is in black or brown skin as well.

  26. Another Deep On point posts that motivates me to pop off a comment without reading the full post or comments.

    My question/comment – whats our/my/your recourse?
    Justice or Revenge?
    by what means?
    And we claim not to comprehend when our youth sag and call each other nigger before all the world.
    The solution – military adequacy is our number one priority individually and collectively.
    To fail to know,learn, and practice fighting is to be subservient to those who will.

    And as for justice or revenge – I’m suppose to forget this ?,I’m supposed to be friendly and civil to those who benefited and show no empathy or remorse?

    Much less have sex or reproduce with?

    The sex drive is strong but so is the need for justice.

    And I vow not just for my “unknown” ancestors but for myself – vengeance or justice which every way the truth points I will make a contribution.

  27. @mbeti

    Karma is already in full swing. There are times when the need for revenge is so strong, im almost insane.

    But looking at the current state of the European world, God has already begun to right the wrongs.

  28. To DOAN and other concerned Brothers and Sisters,

    I want you to watch this heartbreaking video of a Sister whose edible herbal garden was cut by guess which city?

    It’s evil and cruel on the part of officials to destroy her garden and of her survival. As I’ve written in my previous posts on this website, the powers that be want total control of the food supply so as to keep at least 90% of the population under control and eventually eliminated. That Sista didn’t have health insurance and was unemployed. Her garden was her lifeline. It’s so sad.

    S. B.

  29. mary burrell on said:

    @Stehanie Baldwin and Sister Truth. My God. That is so sad. That breaks my heart. Her beautiful garden destroyed. The powers that be whoever they are are such asshole for that. I so sorry for her.

  30. That is a prime example of a POC trying to do for themselves and it get destroyed, even if what they are doing is noble and self-reliant. The powers-that-be do not want people living off of the government being lazy, however, when one does for oneself, they want to cut you off at the knees. Fucking sickening. But, given that this was in Tulsa, OK, the same place where the Black Wallstreet was destroyed, are we really surprised?

  31. Pingback: URL

  32. I’m confused. I thought a white lie instigated the whole bombing

    As for the word picnic, I thought professor manu ampin disproved that

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