An unidentified Black Man stands outside a tent in Tulsa’s previously-affluent Greenwood District. Following the 1921 riot many African American survivors were forced to live for months in tents and other makeshift accommodations. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Gregory E. Brown, Director of the Black Holocaust Society)
While New York City’s Harlem, which the late Dr. Clement Alexander Price referred to as “that most brilliantly lit terrain,” has been rightly celebrated as the focal point of the Harlem Renaissance, there were a number of other communities were African Africans managed to thrive during the “Jazz Age” of the 1920s. One such community was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and June 2016 marks the 95th anniversary of its destruction.
The following excerpt from Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance and the video from “MPortant Films” (with Tulsa Virtual Media Partners) show why the community was so exceptional why what happened there from May 30 to June 1, 1921, should never be forgotten:
“Prior to the massive waves of African Americans exiting the South to head North, many had been lured to the state of Oklahoma as early as the end of the 19th century in hopes of cashing in on its growing oil industry. By 1921, the state could boast the distinction of having more than two dozen towns populated and governed by blacks. Within Tulsa, approximately 15,000 African Americans made up the city’s district of Greenwood. Forced by segregation to rely upon their own means and resources, the citizens of the community became so successful that the district became known as ‘Black Wall Street.’
16 May, 2016
Supporter of principles advocated by PEN American Center and the Academy of American Poets, Aberjhani is also the Choice Academic Title Award-winning co-author of the world's first Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance.