“The Death of Black Wallstreet”: The 1921 race attacks in Tulsa Oklahoma

 

A Privately owned bus line

2 movie theaters

2 newspapers 

21 churches

21 restaurants

30 grocery stores

a hospital

6 private planes

                     Looking at that list, its impressive for a modern town to boast these types of amenities, let alone a community in the early 1900s, and what makes it even more impressive it was a black community. You may be wondering where this was and why haven’t you heard of it before. All this splendor was encompassed within a 35 block radius of Tulsa Oklahoma that was nicknamed “Little Africa” or “Black Wall Street.” The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Ave, and Archer and Pine Streets intersected it. From the First letters in each of those names you get G.A.P., and that’s where the renowned R&B music group the GAP Band got its name . There have been other cities that carried the moniker of “black wall street” (parts of Durham North Carolina) but what made this area more impressive was the high level of prosperity and pride that each person of the community carried.

  

The mainstay of the community was to educate every child. Nepotism was the one word they believed in.

Today education has been reduced to being viewed as an afterthought or nuisance  in the journey of  becoming an instant celebrity or professional athlete.  Creating a place setting at the corporate table for those who look like you is almost non-existence due to the “crabs in a barrel” mentality and fear of losing your piece of the pie by helping someone else obtain theirs.

The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community

Compare this to the fact that the dollar now leaves the black community in 15 minutes. While the spending power of current Black America is far larger than it was during that era, the monetary influence in the community pales in comparison.

In doing my research, I  began to wonder blacks in this community were able to acquire the wealth to build this type of paradise in the midst of racial bigotry. Its was one thing to own land, but blacks having ownership of six private planes when the state of Oklahoma only had two airports at the time was very impressive. The state of Oklahoma was initially designated as being a black and Native American state and there were 28 black townships in the area and  through  the inter-marrying of the Native Americans, some blacks were able to acquire their “fabled” 40 acres and a mule and many times that included oil. Because of Jim Crow laws, these growing communities were forced to pass the dollar from one hand to another which was the jump-start of creating independent wealth and word spread nationally that this was the place to be for blacks.This area also served as a hub for blacks in neighboring towns who had been forced to travel great distances for shopping and entertainment due to segregation laws in their own area.

However this all began to change on May 31st when a black male by the name of Dick Rowland was accused of sexually attacking a woman after he stumbled into her while entering an elevator. The primary instigator in fueling the rage of the racist whites in the community was the local newspaper, the Tulsa Tribune. The nicknamed the accused “Diamond Dick” and portrayed the victim as an orphan that had visible wounds and clothes were torn, when actuality she had deserted her husband in Kansas City and didn’t have a scratch on her. In addition to this article there is a reported editorial that encouraged the whites of the community to come together and lynch the young 19-year-old black male.

(I guess this was the beginning of lack of media integrity)

While he was taken into custody he was never formally charged with a crime but during that era of thick racial hate, a black person didn’t have to commit a crime for him to be considered next on the lynch mob’s list.

– It was not against the law for a white man to kill a black man.

– Groups of white men could take a black male out of police custody with the intention of killing him. 

– Just months earlier a man had been lynched and the crowd was given a police escort during the act.

– Two black people a week were being lynched in AMERICA during this period.

With the black community realizing that Rowland stood no chance of surviving the plot of the vigilante mob, they developed their own protection group and headed towards the courthouse where he was being held. In the subsequent confrontation between the whites and blacks at the courthouse and a stray gunshot was fired thus triggering one of the most heinous events to take place in America that has never been really discussed.

In order to “protect” themselves the city deputized over 500 white men, many of which were members of the Klu Klux Klan, and gave them the right to shoot any “nigger” on sight. Another part of the strategy involved them deploying airplanes to drop turpentine bombs while the blacks slept and upon fleeing their homes, the on looking white army would meet them with a barrage of bullets from various locations. Communication to the outside was cut off; phone and telegraph lines destroyed and even the railroad was blockaded so that no one could leave the area nor get in to find  out what was really going on in the city at the time. Now if this wasn’t systematic race eradication I don’t know what is.

(clockwise from top left) The white mob carrying the dying body of a black male, the initial burning of the city, the aftermath 

In the aftermath of the bombing and shooting, the whites ransacked these once luxurious homes taking anything they could find of value, with many being becoming enraged at the fact that “niggers” had nicer things than they did. The estimated property loss reached above $2.3 million. The estimated death tolls of African-Americans were in the hundreds. White vigilantes arrested thousands of African-Americans and held them for no apparent reasons and  approximately 4,300 African-Americans were left homeless and robbed of all their valuables. There were a few who escaped capturing by running for the hills or hiding under the beds in homes that had survived the air attack and the firebombs from the mobs who raided the neighborhoods on foot. Ironically some of the blacks, who worked as servants and maids, had their lives spared out of the goodness (sarcasm) of their white employers heart by having them hide in the attics or basements. God forbid that all the blacks would be killed in the community and they would have to do their own housework.

Just like word spread of the financial growth in this area, I can only imagine the reaction across the nation to find out about the destruction and the realization that even this piece of black prosperity was not above being attacked by destructive mindset called Racism. After the riots destroyed Greenwood, businesses were rebuilt, churches and schools reestablished and homes reconstructed; however, Greenwood never regained its prominence as a Black Wall Street.

While it was frustrating doing the research for this blog, I knew it was something that had to be discussed. I first have to thank my dad for even talking about what happened for if it weren’t for my father talking about it while he was in town for the 4th of July, I would have never known about the good nor the bad of the Greenwood community in Tulsa Oklahoma. I know there are plenty others like me who aren’t aware of this part of American history, not just black history, so I figured why not bring more awareness to what we had and hopefully it sparks a debate of what we are capable of having if we just come together.

Please feel free to share this blog with anyone you know and be sure to do your own research because this is only a piece of the story, and this is a story that needs to be known understood and told by all.

If you would like to watch the documentary,  where I got a lot of my information from, please  watch the video below and it is broken down into 12 parts.

Also here is the link to the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa Oklahoma

http://www.greenwoodculturalcenter.com/

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Quest for the Concords…

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone… The Christmas holiday season is a time where many people purchase gifts for loved ones and sometimes even themselves. According to the National Retail Foundation it is said that Americans will spend an upwards of 465.5 billion dollars in 2011 shopping which is a 2.8% increase from last year. On December 23, 2011 millions of people not only across the nation but the world reveled in  the release of the Iconic  Air Jordan XI shoe known to sneakerheads as the “Concords.” The past three years Jordan Brand has previously released other colors of this same styled shoe; the “Cool Gray” and the “Space Jam,” and while there was anticipation for the release of those shoes, neither compared to the release of the Concords. The release date of the shoe has been known since the summer, and shortly after many of those who desired to purchase the shoe began to plot on their approach for acquiring them. Generally there are two ways shoes are purchased; by going to the local retailer to purchase them or visiting the website of the same retailers so as to avoid the hassle. Under normal circumstances there wouldn’t be a problem for someone to use either of these outlets to purchase their shoes and be safe. However when it comes to limited or popular releases like the Concord shoe (and Jordans are not the only shoes people camp out for), many knew they would have to be very strategic to get them.

Once I caught wind of the release I made up in my mind that these would be my Christmas gift to myself. The $180 sticker price, while high to a lot of people, is not that far off from other popular shoes like the Foamposits ($200+) the LeBron’s ($170) and Kobe Bryant ($180). Yes there are plenty other brands and styles of gym shoes/sneakers that are less expensive but ask a female that has a REAL Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Tory Burch purse would a less costly purse had been sufficient, and they probably would say yes but  it’s about the brand. I have heard many people take issue with spending that much for a pair of shoes but I look at some of the shoes I have in my collection, which include a pair of Air Jordan XI in a different color that I have had since 2001 that are in still good condition, so if you take care of them they can and will last a long time. Now I am against purchasing these shoes for young children who have yet to develop an appreciation for clothing, but to each his/her own.

Blacks werent the only ones camping out for them

But back to my quest for the Concords, I initially thought about trying the “order online” route but I recalled the horror stories that many of my sneakerhead friends discussed in regards to ordering shoes that were just as popular online. From the website crashing and not allowing you to purchase, to you making the purchase but getting an email from the website stating that the order never went through. So I decided to try the campout route, where I would go to a local mall and sit outside until they opened the doors. Little did I know, the mall security had given out tickets to those interested in purchasing the shoes earlier that day, around the same time I had gone to the mall to scope out the scene and talk to a couple of guys that work in the shoe stores I frequent. So when I got back to the mall around 11pm for the Midnight release, there was a nice crowd of around 50-75 people already huddled around. I assumed that Footlocker would have an ample amount to satisfy this crowd so I was not worried. However right as the clock struck 12AM the dropped the ticket bomb on a lot of us and I began to get nervous. But after hearing that they only gave out 40 tickets, and me being close to the door, I became confident in being able to get them… SIKE… shortly after letting the 40 ticket holders get their shoes they pulled down the gate and sent many of us home empty-handed. The next morning I tried another store but had my hopes crushed again because this retailer, who was a private owned store, sold many of their allotment of shoes during the previous two weeks so I trudged home disappointed.

Now many are probably asking why would I go through all of this for a pair of shoes… Simply put because this was an item I really wanted. When it comes to things we want we will subject ourselves to things that to other people deem over the top. Some women will sit in a salon for hours for hairstyles that last only a couple of days then do it again in a couple of weeks which in the grand scheme equates purchasing these same “overpriced” shoes monthly. I also know people who will sit outside in line for Black Friday sales, stood in lines longer and under worse conditions to get tickets for concerts and we all  have seen images of college students who will miss class to eat sleep and chill in tents just to get access to tickets for bowl games or premium seats versus a heated rival. During my college days I will admit to have “camped-out” for the PS2 and actually missed a quiz but luckily begged my professor to let me retake it. I also stood in line for concerts and will never forget the frenzy behind the Kappa Thanksgiving Party at St. Andrews where if you weren’t in line at 9pm for a party that really didn’t get hype until 11pm you didn’t get in.

Fans of the Group Panic attack

Texas A&M fans camping for Cotton bowl tickets

I wonder what Best Buy had on sale?

Upon getting over my disappointment I got home to find out about the craziness that ensued throughout the nation. Recounts of pandemonium, fights and robberies were littered all over the internet and on the news (it even made ESPN.) Someone went as far as to create a fake death of a young teenager in the DC/Maryland area.

someone has too much time on their hands

While the drama that took place in many urban areas across the nation is unfortunate, please do not be blinded by the BS that is being perpetuated here. It’s ironic that any other time we take Fox News with a grain of salt especially it comes to politics, but with this story their perceptions are legit. Also now that there is evidence that the death in DC is a hoax, I havent seen ANY media outlet update the story or send a retraction for covering something that was false. It’s shameful that  the media knows how divided we as a black community are and will use it against us. Violence during Black Friday shopping isn’t given this much coverage because white America doesn’t care, but they realize that since much of our social acceptance is tied to our stuff and things they know it will be a heated topic of conversation where many will never understand the person on the other side of the argument.

I have seen it all in regards to jokes & comments about those who have purchased the Concords, and yes I’ll agree that if your bills aren’t paid and you skimping out on other responsibilities as an adult, you shouldn’t be able to partake of any luxuries but that goes beyond purchasing sneakers/gym shoes. But changing this mindset of having the latest toy and “keep up with the Jones” goes way beyond what is happening now. Just like we are pre-disposed to health issues because of genetics, we also acquire mentalities and thought-processes from the DNA of our parents and ancestors. Many believe this “gotta ball” mentality is something new but it’s not, I believe we can trace these desires back to when we were African kings and queens. Look at historical accounts of how our ancestors cherished stuff and things, C’mon, they had extravagant tombs and pyramids constructed for the “ballers” of their times. Even look at present day African tribes, while they may not use a Benz or extravagant homes to show status they have their own unique way of showing who is the top of the heap, whether its colorful face paint or necklaces. So we first must realize this ball out mindset and how you treat money did not just recently evolve,  so you may need to sit down with your parents and even grandparents to see how they spent their money and compare habits to really see how much of a curse this is. I am currently doing a 18 week financial stewardship class through my church and we are using the  book Jesus on Money by Larry Burkett;  it has  helped all of us in the class face issues head on so that our bad financial habits aren’t transferred to our children or grandchildren.

So while all of this started as a quest for a pair of shoes, it has opened my eyes to so much more, and while I still wish I had gotten them I’m glad for the life lessons the journey taught me.

No Dad= No Leadership= Unsuccessful NFL QB ???

Sports journalist tend to push the envelope when it comes to controversial topics, and it seems that the recent hot topic story in the NFL is the success of quarterback Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos. Just from observing the internet there are two sides; either you hate it or love the story that has developed from what he has done after replacing Kyle Orton at quarterback. For me in sports the ultimate goal is to win game and that is what he is doing, regardless of how good he looks doing it. There have been plenty of former quarterbacks who looked the part of being a quintessential quarterback but the end results didn’t match the look. In addition to his antics on the field; the awkward throwing motion, the forced adaptation of the read-option as a staple in the bronco playbook to the invention of a celebration craze called “Tebow-ing”, people have taken shots at him being open and honest in discussing his spirituality (which I applaud and wish more religious people did.) However the most outrageous hot topic story is the one written by Fox-Sports journalist Jason Whitlock, in which he says that Tebow’s success as a quarterback can directly be attributed to being raised in a dual parent household.

“Tebow’s performance on the football field is testament to Bob and Pam Tebow and what they instilled in their youngest child…”

Whitlock later goes on to call out two quarterbacks who have spent a significant amount of time on the roller-coaster of being being a NFL quarterback, they also happen to be black while Tebow is white:

“…At this moment, no one knows whether the Tebow experiment Elway and Fox have been pressured into undertaking will result in anything more sustainable than Tennessee’s Vince Young experience or Atlanta’s Michael Vick roller coaster.

What should be dawning on us — especially those of us who greeted Tebow’s Broncos career with skepticism — is that, thanks to a rock-solid, two-parent upbringing, Tebow is quite different from Young and Vick in terms of mental and emotional makeup. Those differences raise the real possibility that Tebow is the athletic-freak quarterback an NFL franchise should embrace with a revolutionary offensive approach…

NFL quarterback is a 24/7-365-day job that Vick and Young were unprepared for coming out of college. NFL quarterback is a position best played by young men who were raised by strong fathers. Quarterback is the ultimate leadership position. You have to be taught how to lead. You have to be taught how to prepare.

Vick and Young, athletic freaks on par with Tebow, do not have Tebow’s nuclear-family foundation. Vick and Young entered the league emotionally immature and with a set of values inconsistent with the values that lead to consistent, strong QB play. You can wing it in college and get by on sheer athleticism and talent. You can’t do that at the quarterback position in the NFL…”

This has to be one of the most ridiculous correlations ever made by someone claiming to know sports. First of all there we still do not know if Tebow will be successful as a NFL quarterback because ironically the two examples he used to try to prove his baseless theory had successful seasons as rookies. We all realize that in the black community the percentages of dual parent households are dismal and even lower once you consider professional athletes, so if Whitlock wanted to make a more credible argument why not find a white quarterback that struggled because of no in-house father figure to base his argument on.

Is he saying that if Cliff Huxtable wasn’t an in-home dad, Theo wouldnt have had the leadership qualities needed graduated from college and would have been subjected to a life of spending monopoly money to survive?

Yes its true Michael Vick and Vince Young have struggled in their careers, but can we truly attribute that to the fact that their dad was not in their home when they were growing up? I will agree that the position of quarterback is the ultimate leadership position in sports, but who is Whitlock to say that the only way you learn how to lead is through an in-home dad. There should be plenty of outraged mothers, grandparents, coaches, and mentors out there in society, because I guess the foundation they laid meant nothing and only “dear old dad” can be the one cultivate your ability to lead on the football field and in life. In being critical of men being able to effectively lead without dad present, I guess Whitlock overlooked perhaps the most important leadership position in the world, President of United State. Current US President Barack Obama shattered every misconception that Whitlock used during his journey to be the 44th president. While being a NFL quarterback is high pressure, even Whitlock will agree that being the President of the United States requires a lot more responsibility than being a professional athlete and if President Obama could ascend to that level of leadership without dad being there I am confident a quarterback could as well.

One must also consider the flipside of the conversation, while perhaps Tim Tebow success can be attributed to dual parent household playing an active role in his life; there have been plenty of NFL quarterbacks who had their dad in their homes and for a better usage of words still SUCKED!!! ESPN’s most recent “30 for 30” series documents the tumultuous rise and fall of super prep and former LA Raider quarterback Todd Marinovich. Todd’s father, Marv Marinovich, was a mad scientist when it came to trying to develop his son into this “Robo QB” subjecting his young son to quirky exercises and training processes that back in the 80’s was thought as being over the top.  During the documentary, Marinovich recounted the moment he made it as a NFL quarterback; he felt that his whole life as an athlete was for this moment and once it happened, he realized he had made his dad proud and there was nothing else left to play for. Unfortunately being under the pressure that had first been applied by his dad, Marinovich’s NFL career ended just two years into existence and he subsequently fell victim to a life of drugs and run-ins with the law, lifestyle choices that even the most protective dad, as Marv was, couldn’t save him from.

So yes, in an ideal situation we would want the NFL to be full of players, especially black quarterbacks, who were privileged enough to be raised in homes with their dads playing an ACTIVE and positive role, and while today it is a rare occurrence we still must not give men in society a reason to bitch and complain and not achieve at the highest level in their respective endeavor, it just may mean that they have to do a little more than their counterpart who had all the resources.

On Saturday there was another quarterback inducted into the Heisman brotherhood Robert Griffin III. He is a product of a two parent household, and could  be the next one to prove Jason Whitlocks flawed theory correct, but before I send him an apology and a bouquet of flowers, he must remember there will always been exceptions to the rules, ask Redskin fans about Heath Schuler!

Be strong… Be VERY strong…

             For the past couple weeks I have been on my “Tiggalo ish”, for those who may not understand what that means, Tiggalo is the alias/alter-ego for Hip Hop Renaissance Entertainer Phonte (1/3 of the rap group Little Brother and crooner for R&B super-group Foreign Exchange), who happens to be one of my new favorite musical entertainers. After finally getting a chance to download his recent release, a solo album dubbed “Charity Starts at Home,” I gave the album a quick listen but there was a song that I had to go back to “Sendin my Love.” On this track, he really gets personal in the struggles that many men and matter of fact people in general struggle with daily “Life Choices.” For him the choice battle surfaced when he allowed a woman from his past to conjure up feelings of lust and temptation, hence my initially mentioning the men. We all have vices
that lure us and tempt us but in the end we have the ultimate choice to make, to do right or do wrong. There are guys out there that will argue that it’s not in them to be with one woman or be faithful but I call BS on that, just like you choose to get up every day and go to work, or choose not to rob/steal/kill,
the choice of doing right by your significant other carries the same weight. We ALL get faced with the option of falling for the“furry temptress” but it boils down to what really matters to you… I can hear some of my guy readers saying that “I have drama at home” or “I’m not appreciated” and that may be so but at the end of the day you still have a choice. Part of what made the temptation so much greater in the Phonte song was because he was having issues with his significant other, but as with most things in life the Devil looks for entrance ways to cause strife and mess in even the happiest circumstance.

Here are some ways you can avoid falling:

Surround yourself with positive men who will keep it 100 with you:

There is nothing worse than you battling a  temptation issue and your boys are encouraging you to cheat or giving you  avenues to do so. At this stage of life your boys/friends/frat brothers should  be doing things to build you up no break you down. If all you have around you  are people who encourage that negative behavior then it may be time to change your circle. And if you are one of these guys who are encouraging your boy to act up GTHOH, time to grow up and leave the juvenile games of “chase the cat” back in the bachelor days, your friendship should mean enough to the point where you don’t want to see him jack up his life.

See beyond the “moment”:

You can’t give in simply because you got a hard on, wifey tripping and a blast from the past is pushing up on you. As science says the blood the fuels the erection comes from your brain, thus reducing your ability to think logically. You have to ask yourself is that momentary “release” with this fling worth jeopardizing all you  claim you love and worked so hard to build. Whether you are married or single,  you being in a relationship took some investing in and are you really willing  to lose that for a chick that you won’t want to deal with the next day.

Communicate with your significant other:

A lot of men say that they look elsewhere  because there is a disconnect with their significant other. But how often have  you tried to bring things back together is the key question. In my own  experience I’ve learned that things have fallen off simply because the guy saw  it one way and his significant other saw it differently. But keep this theory  in mind in the conversation “when she’s wrong she’s RIGHT and even when you’re right you’re wrong”

Avoid tempting situations when having relationship issues:

We all will have relationship disagreements  but there is nothing worse than having one and then putting yourself in a  situation to be tempted. More often you will let your anger/frustration in the  relationship diminish your common sense and allow yourself to be put in  compromising situations that you then try to justify. So calling your boys up and running to the club (strip or dance) may not be the best idea if you just go into it with your girl. Even if you dont necessarily want to be around your girl, go somewhere that you know is a safe haven like the driving range, a cigar bar or the gym… on second thought maybe not the gym considering what some of these ladies wear to work out nowadays.

Walk away:

If you are constantly fighting temptation and even giving in to it, it may be time to call that relationship a wrap. Yes we know that can be easier said than done but I guarantee that your girl will  appreciate you a lot more if you end it that way than her having to find out  via Facebook, email, text or in person. If you are married with kids and in this situation you have to look at whats best for the kids because once you had them it no longer became about you, their welfare/safety/protection SHOULD have become priority #1 but considering you thinking about doing a selfish act of cheating, I may have to reconsider if you are thinking of anyone but yourself at this point.

Shoot you may even have to do like Phonte and  talk yourself out of it. There is a point in the “story” of the song  where he has a decision to make; either go with his ex or go home to his wife and we find him repeating to  himself “Tiggalo be strong, be VERY strong…” While it may seem silly to have to  mentally talk your way through the situation, you are distracting yourself from the temptation, allowing the lust to subside and perhaps even laughing at
yourself because you feel silly for having to talk to yourself but by that time the moment has passed and you are back to thinking clearly.

So the next time you are  faced with that tempting moment talk it out, even if it is to yourself, and  long as you don’t answer yourself you won’t seem crazy and by the time the one-sided conversation ends,  you will have built  up some confidence in knowing you can fight off this temptation and take it on home…

I was able to find the audio on YouTube, so take a listen for yourself and while you are at it just  go out and buy this man CD… #QUALITYMUSIC