Black Wall Street

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"Black Wall Street" was the name given to Greenwood Avenue of North Tulsa, Oklahoma during the early 1900’s. Because of strict segregation, Blacks were only allowed to shop, spend, and live in a 35 square block area called the Greenwood district. The "circulation of Black dollars" only in the Black community produced a tremendously prosperous Black business district that was admired and envied by the whole country. Oklahoma’s first African-American settlers were Indian slaves of the so-called "Five Civilized Tribes": Chickasaws, Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, and Seminoles. These tribes were forced to leave the Southeastern United States and resettle in Oklahoma in mid-winter over the infamous "Trail of Tears." After the Civil War, U.S.-Indian treaties provided for slave liberation and land allotments ranging from 40-100 acres, which helps explain why over 6000 African-Americans lived in the Oklahoma territory by 1870. Oklahoma boasted of more All-Black towns and communities than any other state in the land, and these communities opened their arms to freed slaves from all across the country. Remarkably, at one time, there were over 30 African-American newspapers in Oklahoma. Tulsa began as an outpost of the Creek Indians and as late as 1910, Walter White of the NAACP, described Tulsa as "the dead and hopeless home of 18,182 souls." Suddenly, oil was discovered and Tulsa rapidly grew into a thriving, bustling, enormously wealthy town of 73,000 by 1920 with bank deposits totaling over $65 million. However, Tulsa was a "tale of two cities isolated and insular", one Black and one White. Tulsa was so racist and segregated that it was the only city in America that boasted of segregated telephone booths. Since African Americans could neither live among Whites as equals nor patronize White businesses in Tulsa, Blacks had to develop a completely separate business district and community, which soon became prosperous and legendary. Black dollars invested in the Black...
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