This week marks 100 years since a white mob inflicted an unthinkable level of racial violence in Tulsa, Okla. From May 31 through June 1, 1921, the Tulsa Race Massacre took the lives of at least 300 of Black people. In addition to the lives lost, hundreds of Black-owned businesses were destroyed. In an effort to remember those losses, a group of students have built a website to celebrate Tulsa’s historic Black Wall Street.
According to CBS News, the websites were built by students in the Urban Coders Guild, an organization founded by Tulsa native Mikeal Vaughn that teaches students from underserved communities STEM skills.
“There was a whole community of businesses that existed, and so the idea is that if those businesses existed in 2021, they would most likely have a website. They would most likely have a mobile app. And we’re teaching kids to make websites and we’re teaching kids to make mobile apps. And so it made sense that we do this,” Vaughn told CBS News.
Vaughn pointed out that the project is not only teaching the kids valuable coding skills, but it’s also allowing them to learn about an under-discussed part of American history. “It’s connecting them to a past for sure, but we also want to focus on connecting them to a future that maybe they didn’t even imagine, a future working in tech, maybe being a coder,” Vaughn said.
The website, historicblackwallstreet.com features a series of webpages that imagine what the websites would look like if some of those historic businesses were still around today. As of now, there are only six pages live on the site, but Vaughn said they intend to add more as time goes on. This is the kind of curriculum public schools in general should be adopting; teaching kids valuable coding skills while also tying in a very important history lesson.
Brenda Nails-Alford, a descendant of several individuals who survived the massacre, is appreciative of the work the students are doing. “It speaks volumes to the legacies that make Black Wall Street, and you all will carry on that legacy,” she told the students, CBS notes.