Imagine a thriving Black community with its own hospitals, schools, theaters. A place where Black people circulate the Black dollar and build Black wealth. This place, known as Black Wall Street, once existed, but nearly a century ago it was destroyed by a heinous act of state-sanctioned violence: the Tulsa Race Massacre.
On May 31, 1921, a mob of angry white men ravaged Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, destroying homes and businesses and leaving as many as 300 Black people dead. A.J. Smitherman was a Black political activist and publisher in Tulsa, who documented the massacre. Raven Majia Williams is Smitherman’s great-granddaughter and the founder of the A.J. Smitherman Foundation. Through her work, she continues the legacy of her great-grandfather, as well as the citizens of Black Wall Street.
“My mission is to carry on the truth, but also to carry on his [A.J. Smitherman’s] mission,” said Majia Williams.
While we can only speculate where the Black business owners of Tulsa, Okla.’s Greenwood District would have been, we are certain that Black Wall Street is an example of accumulating Black self-sufficiency and wealth for centuries to come.
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