More than 100 years ago, the Greenwood community of Tulsa, Oklahoma stood as a citadel of Black economic power and opportunity. At each street corner, at every turn, Black men and women were active agents of enterprise, owning their own businesses and securing their economic futures. But on the night of May 31, 1921, into the following morning, a violent mob attacked the community, decimating both property and people, killing around 300 innocent men, women, and children.
The destruction of Black Wall Street, as Greenwood became affectionately known, still resonates in the hearts and minds of many today, not just as a symbol of the glory of what once was, but as a promise of what can be today. Contrary to popular belief, the Tulsa Massacre did not destroy Black Wall Street. It merely disrupted it. Despite the tremendous loss and monumental financial setback, the community found within themselves the resolve and resiliency to rebuild and restore what had been lost.
That same level of resolve must remain in our hearts and minds today in our pursuit of financial wellbeing and independence. Black Wall Street was not, nor should be, an isolated phenomenon that we lovingly gaze up in our historic rear-view mirror. On the contrary, we should be rebuilding and replicating what the people of Greenwood created a century ago many times over today. Death, destruction, and disappointment are sadly common themes of the Black experience in America. But it has never destroyed our resolve to excel and overcome.
Today, we are actively involved in building a new Black Wall Street — one that can be built on any street on any block in any part of the country — through the power of financial literacy and opportunity.
When we choose to empower ourselves with the principles of financial literacy, innovation, and commerce, we enact, enable, and unleash the power of the American financial system into our lives and communities to create viable streams of wealth. Yes, we remember the pain and suffering of the past and continue to mourn the lives that were lost. But in our mourning, we must remain motivated to excel and succeed and give our children what the residents of Greenwood may not have been able to give to theirs — wealth and the roadmap to build it, keep it, and sustain it.
Join me and Operation HOPE in our effort to help build the next Black Wall Streets around America through the 1 Million Black Businesses (1MBB) initiative. Together, we are standing up 1 million Black-owned businesses across America within the next ten years to help generate wealth and opportunity in communities throughout the nation.
Black Wall Street lives on, but it’s waiting on you to manifest it through your work, mindset, and ingenuity. Let’s get started today.
Click here to watch my talk on why Black capitalism matters, especially in light of today’s significance. Let me know what you think in the comments below.