Ep. 11: Black Wall Street Reborn
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
Photo Courtesy: Tulsa Historical Society and Museum
While some African American survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre left Greenwood for good, surprisingly, many stayed even though most returned home to ashes. However, of the black Tulsans who decided to remain in their community and rebuild, most had virtually none of the advantages that they had when Black Wall Street was first developed. For example, after the Massacre, black Tulsans had very little to zero assets; little to no access to previously advantageous streams of income; their insular economy was ground to a halt because their community was destroyed, preventing them from immediately generating income. The larger economy of Tulsa in general was ground to a halt as well for several days following the massacre. Additionally, many black Tulsans had incurred more debt with fewer and less expeditious ways of paying it off. Many had also lost loved ones in the Massacre, which not only meant the loss of invaluable life but it also meant the loss of another contributor to household responsibilities or income. Finally, many black Tulsans had little to no ability to seek support from nearby relatives or friends as most of their neighbors were also experiencing similar hardships. Nevertheless, not only did black Tulsans reconstruct Black Wall Street, over time the second version became more prosperous than the first. This was a testament to the resilient, tenacious nature of the community.
In this episode, Multimedia Journalist, Nia Clark, interviews attorney, author and consultant, Hannibal B. Johnson. Listeners will also hear from longtime Tulsa community leader, Jeanne B. Goodwin, who began living in Tulsa in the late 1920's at the beginning of its regeneration.
Hannibal B. Johnson, attorney, author and consultant.
“...the important thing to understand about the story and the devastation that was wrought on the community is that the human spirit ultimately prevailed. Black people vowed to stay. Many of them vowed to stay and to rebuild. And they did just that. ~Hannibal Johnson
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ROUGH EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION
When I came in, there was a mr. Woodson was principal in the school. He was very strict about the character and the preparation for his teachings and the students. He didn't tolerate. I can flow. There's just that. Oh, I know once that bridge, Brian, my mother miles house, and one of the girls is smoking. I saw him coming up the front steps and she almost bombed a cigarette, but my niece just comes from, has been wired.
He crowd says she does. It's the only place in America where they have a clubhouse that high school students. Yes. That's exactly like mr. Blitz and men in this community still, you know? So it left me easy. I mean, this is, haven't been easy, but I'm just joking this for not taking advantage. That's, that's your message to these gentleman should take advantage of what's out there.
Oh, you can because you can't. I mean, if you get so far over there, there's no power.
In partnership with the Tulsa race massacre, Centennial commission. I'm Nia clerk. And this is black wall street, 1921.
You just heard from Tulsa community leader, Jean Goodwin, before she passed away in the clip she's being interviewed by author historian and educator, Eddie fakey. She was describing her encounters with LSW. What's the first principal of Booker T Washington high school. She was also describing how important it is to get an education and how much value people assigned to it.
When she was a teacher years ago, mr. Woods lived on North Detroit Avenue. His home was during the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. However, Even after the massacre, he continued to be a leader in education. In Tulsa. In this episode, we're going to take a deep dive into life after the Tulsa race massacre, specifically what African Americans did in the years that followed to put their lives back together and rebuild their community.
You see, one might think that an event such as the Tulsa race massacre with the end of that community or any community that experienced such a tragedy, as it turns out black wall street experienced a rebirth after the massacre or a regeneration as some would call it. And once again, opportunity and bustling business community attracted newcomers to Greenwood.
In some cases shortly after the massacre, it attracted people like Jean Goodwin, according to her. Okay. Which wary in the Tulsa world newspaper dated January 26, Jean Val Goodwill. I was a longtime educator and community leader. She was born in Springfield, Illinois in 1903, attended and earned a degree from this university in Nashville, Tennessee, where she met her husband and moved to Tulsa with her husband in the late 1920s, several years.
After the Tulsa race massacre, they had eight children. She worked as a social worker for several years before she began a roughly 40 year teaching career. She was also heavily involved in her community. Notably. She was the founder of the women's reading circle, which started in 1964 and is believed to be the first interracial women's group in Tulsa.
There's a room named in her honor at the Ruidoso regional library. Gene Goodwin died at the age of 102 in 2006. Her late has been E L Goodwin senior or Edward Lawrence Goodwin was a lawyer and publisher of the Oklahoma Eagle, a newspaper that served Tulsa black community for decades. In an article dated May 25th, 2007.
The Tulsa world describes E L as the grandson of a slave who was born in water Valley, Mississippi. Before he moved to Tulsa, he graduated from Booker T Washington high school, went to Fisk university again, where he met his wife and where he played football while earning a degree in business administration.
After graduating Goodwin moved back to st. Louis, where he operated a shoe store for several years before, or he returned to Tulsa to open up or dash Surrey, E L Goodwin was known for his strongly worded editorial and for being an advocate of education for African Americans. According to the Oklahoma historical society, his newspaper, the Oklahoma Eagle.
He says its roots back to the daily Tulsa star, which was also an African American newspaper. The daily star. It was founded in 1912 under a different name before it was moved to Tulsa in 1913, also known as the Tulsa daily star, the paper advocated for African-American causes it operated until its dramatic and untimely end.
Following the Tulsa race massacre. Of 19 2130 years after graduating from Fisk, E L Goodwin went back to school this time to the university of Tulsa, where he received a law degree. He opened a law practice with Charles Owen, a former police officer, who later became a district court judge in Oklahoma city.
He was Oklahoma's first black judge when he was appointed in 1969 and the state's second black elected judge asked for Goodwin, his civic leadership earned him a number of honors, including and honorary doctor of law degree from oral Roberts university and an induction into the Oklahoma journalism hall of fame.
After he retired from law and journalism Goodwin opened up. A catfish farm E L Goodwin died in 1978. Gene L are great examples of the type of spirit and conviction. It took for black wall street to literally rise from the ashes and stand as an example of what can happen when a community of people work together and try to create a world that would offer future generations more than they have, even if they endure unspeakable hardship in the process.
Let's listen to Jeanne again, speaking briefly about her life in Greenwood, her family's values and how they managed to overcome and prosper.
They were interviewing Jean Goodwin, who was at Tulsa pioneer. She said, living even walk in a history book, maybe she's been in Tulsa since 1927 shit. And I was like, wow, history really I've known this is Goodman since I was a little girl growing up in Preston, Oklahoma Nero Malki the Oklahoma Eagle was our link to the world.
I'll link to heritage. And that paper was founded by her late husband. And. And I'm going to be asking her some questions about the paper, but in addition to finding out about the paper and about, about her husband who went back to school and became a lawyer and got his law degree at the university of Tulsa, when he was in his fifties and had his large family, I, I want people to know that there's no excuse for not succeeding.
She and her husband accepted no excuses. They just want it. And it did what needed to be done. Like chop that legacy. To the children who are all successful. And we want that the message to get out to our young people today that you can overcome anything. You can overcome poverty, racism, whatever. And that is why we're interviewing this beautiful lady today.
Mrs. Goodman, it's a little bit about yourself, about growing up, you know, what it was like. Okay. In those days, the summer we'd go visit my grandfather 40 miles away. Field, there were no blacks in that area. So they always had a hunger for education. And we were taught that it's never mattered if you're going to school when you though, but my early memory was a race ride in Springfield by my father.
He come out of the country because his mother was a slave. We couldn't, we could not use the word Democrat in our house because we found the consent freed. His mother and someone who was bothered her families everyday. He said they freed my mother, if nothing else. So we get married early. We, we to go to school wherever we lived, we had only integrated school, very, very fast man.
But because my father said, get an education. He said that he had only gone to here. As far as you can go, you have to get out of here, but you said they could take your clothes and you may not have money, but if you have an educated heart, now I had you have it forever. You'd be prepared to do whatever.
And that's the way we were rare, six out us. And you came to tell us in 1927, right. And my husband just gave him right now. He was not always in journalism. Tell me about what made him decide to found the Oklahoma Eagle newspaper and what made him decide to become a well, he came here, here at Fisk. I majored in business.
Because his father was a pioneer in Tulsa, him, there were businesses heaters, but there was something came out in the Caribbean. That was, that was dr. Mallis. He was concerned and he's a, several like a, my own guys played there. So there was a mr. Blockman who out of paper and behind his post office, give us up that stuff by bad press, about as big as at 91 table.
But eventually we got that for $2,000. I still have the check. Okay. And of course, we went to a larger building and gradually a new about if you didn't know anybody, journalism to graduate without an interest on me, black people, and to help us 57 years now, we haven't missed a week. This also the many times he won't because it takes my dad got out of bed.
Well, that is a wonderful story that I did not know about the, the Eagles. So it was really my protest to protest against them. Where we can see when I came here, everybody said and talked about in the Greenwood pairing agreement agreement. So one day we just changed that thing to say North Tulsa, because we'd heard about North little rock, and this is what we thought about also just all together.
And when we, when I came, it was the most strappy segregated in America. You just didn't go across to Archer street. I've heard that even in the deep South, it was more geographic, uh, communication between the races and then also normal. I, because I came in after the lab, after seven years, they were just rebuilding at that time that it was an interesting place to live.
And it was, I started teaching at the $88. I'm not glad again. And we had to go out in the city. We couldn't, we have two things to study in a summer and we had no place to go except a nice dinner. We all would go to university of Colorado. We paid our own expenses to this one thing. Some people say today that education is just on a silver platter for young people today, just all around just the virtual feast.
And they do not take advantage of it. Does that bother you? It bothered me the extent that their industry are changing themselves. So, and your family education was strict and my husband's family because he, they were born and he was born in Mississippi and there was so much, so much Greg, they say, Oh mother, okay.
They have to say second grade education. And they have a grocery store. They were very thrifty people. He ran with the railroad. So that day when he was able to save quite a bit to come here, but he wanted more for his children. It's right now that we're not free from problems. We've had as many problems, as many tragedies and our families, whatever we know anybody, but you live above them.
You don't get better, you'll get better. And that's really why we want to talk to people like you today to let them know that their legacy did not start with slavery or. It's not just rooted in slavery. Your husband is a lawyer. Yes, because, um, one of my sons is riding horseback, half my country and he fell under frame academic training and he lost his arm.
Well, we run a community player, the skill that just we're just beginning to be integrated. And he would have had to go to union school to, um, to get his, uh, to finish school because he started over what did do with carbon and then. But decided that they were, it was an agriculture or they had Jim had wanted him.
So we sent him to my mother's home to my sister, a Catholic school. So we thought about it was good for me. And so then my husband said, well, he's going to be something to help him to make a living. And so
graduates from Dawson. And he got into cutting practice. Why don't you do now while he was doing that? You were teaching and raising two eight too, but that's, I said, that's the famous, they have her, but that I six on her individually. So we're trying to do, and then taught my youngest children, three of them.
I don't get them from school separate but equal. And yet, uh, Today, they have all these gaming labs and all of that, and they're not taking advantage of it with our separate and on equal education. We still learn something and nobody can teach them in school, but he did there. You see him? I would have two or three first grade, and then I went from there and talk to big space.
What'd you do? You're taking you take your first year of kids. First, you turn around, they can take care of a smaller group two and three year rather than the room. So then you were using that to mix the ability and the route one group. She's seen another long before it became a model. I didn't know. So it was just doing, he didn't have enough books.
So if it gets booked, well, I take newspapers. I say, I really, we would cut up ads on the paper, put them up on the bullet. And then we got to tie cash register and they would bring clean cereal boxes and cans and things. And we had grocery store. I just playing for them. But in the play they haven't learned to read.
They haven't learned to make the grow.
This episode, it's a little special for me. One of the people we're going to cover is an unsung hero of the Tulsa race massacre. Who in my opinion did not get enough credit while she was alive. And she probably still hasn't gotten all of the recognition. She deserves years after her death. Her name is Mary Elizabeth Jones parish.
She was a boy black women. And at the time of the massacre, a trained journalists like myself, that common not dominator between us is what makes this story all the more compelling for me. Like many black women journalists past and present, she worked hard to convey information and to tell the truth about her community.
When most people at the time would rather turn and look away. Paris was from Rochester, New York and came to Tulsa in about 19, 19 or 1920. According to a report called Tulsa race riot. I report by the Oklahoma commission to study the Tulsa race riot of 1921. She was a YMCA typing instructor at the time of the massacre, ms.
Paris was hired by the interracial commission to write an account of the massacre immediately following the attack because she was a survivor. She wrote about her experiences as well as those of other survivors and witnesses. For example, the report cites an account by parish that reads quote Negro men, women, and children were killed in great numbers.
As they ran, trying to fleet to safety, one unidentified informant later told Mary he perished the most horrible scenes of this occurrence was to see women dragging their children while running to safety and the dirty bleep bleep. Firing at them as they ran, I'll let you fill in the Bleaks ms. Paris also collected photographs of the Tulsa race, massacre, and compiled a partial list of property losses in the African Americans community.
She published all of this information in a book. She title events of the Tulsa disaster parishes book is one of the reasons we know much of what we do about the Tulsa race massacre. And its aftermath, not only is her volume, the first book to be published about the attack on Greenwood, but it is a quote pioneering work of journalism by an African American woman, according to the report.
And to this day, it also remains an invaluable contemporary account of those tragic events. In regards to some of that property parish recorded after the massacre, this information became incredibly valuable. When searches with the commission, we're trying to understand the full scope of the Tulsa race massacre.
They compiled a database of North Tulsa, the area of black wall street, where most African Americans lived at the time in order to determine how much wealth was concentrated in black wall street before the massacre and how much had been lost. Afterwards, it would also give them some clues to which black Towson's may not have survived the massacre.
Correct. Here's where perish comes in. That database included information from city directories, 1920 census information and Mary E. Jones parishes account from her book, which details that partial list of losses and their addresses. This is an example of why I say so much of what we know today about the massacre is thanks to Mary E.
Jones Paris. During this research, according to the report, titled a report by the Oklahoma commission to study the Tulsa race riot of 1921. Experts learned that quote between June 4th, 1921 and June 6th, 1922, Tulsa residents filed riot related claims against the city for over one point $8 million. The city commission disallowed.
Most of those claims what exception occurred when a white resident obtained compensation for guns taken from his shop. The sum of the actual damage filed in the 193 retrieved court cases equal 1 million, 470,000. $711 and 56 cents, which is in close relation to the 1.5 and the 1.8 million of the other estimates, of course not all residents took insurance companies or the city to court, but most of the prominent business men and women, as well as the influential residents.
Did have detailed petitions drawn out against both entities in 1937, judge Bradford, Jay Williams, summarily dismissed most of the court cases and quote, it goes on to say, quote, a study of these claims reveals the diverse wealth and poverty in the community. One that could match or exceed that of many other communities in 1921, Oklahoma and quote, according to Mary parish, his book quote court case claims warranty, deed records and court clerk records.
Many African Americans in Tulsa owned rental property, black Tulsan you've suffered significant financial loss attributed to rental properties included R T Bridgewater, J H Goodwin. Sadie partied, Lola Williams and GW Hutchins, many other African Americans possessed rental property, including Carrie Kinlaw vigil RO John swinger.
Emmy works SM Jackson, JB, Stratford as board and Monroe CW, Henry. Mrs. Warren and a L STOVL, also many white Tolsons conducted real estate business in the African American district. Prior to the riot end quote, let me be clear. You cannot put a price on the hundreds of lives that were lost as a result of the massacre.
The value of a life is in my opinion, incalculable. But the loss of a life for a family could mean one less person to contribute to a household meaningfully and potentially financially. And while some experts today believe the financial loss was far, far greater than the 1.5 to 1.8 million estimates. In the mentioned paragraph, what is also important to take away from this account is that none of the black Towson's who were attacked or who survived at the Tulsa race massacre.
We're reimbursed for their losses. Few of the effected property owners had insurance, according to the book, black wall street by attorney, author, and consultant, Hannibal Johnson. Those who did were told that unless they could prove negligence on the part of the city or state, the insurance policy would be void.
In some cases, insurance policies contained an exclusion for damage occasion, buy and quote. Act of riot and to quote, this is also important because it is with this, this backdrop of becoming recently homeless or losing just about all of their possessions and not being compensated for any of their losses that black Tolsons, who remained in Tulsa rebuilt black wall street, as devastating and unimaginable as the massacre itself was, I would say the fact that survivors were able to literally pick up the pieces.
And rebuild their community after suffering so much pain and loss is nothing short of remarkable. Consider the factors that contributed to the creation of black wall street. The first time around the land allotments by the U S government to people of native American ancestry, including former African-America slaves of the natives, as well as those former slaves descendants access to end developed plan that had the promise of new beginning.
Access to capital that would have otherwise been available. If not for the disruption of the local economy, as a result of the massacre, direct access to the benefits of the booming oil industry. These are all things, things that many black Tolsons or their four or five could tap into before and during the existence of black wall street, the first time around, before it was burned out, not so the second time around.
Even before the massacre, most blacks were barred from employment manufacturing and the oil industry, which is credited with spring. Oklahoma's impressive economic development at the time. So wildlife Tulsan has benefited indirectly from the economic growth of the oil and manufacturing industries, for example, as the population group.
And so did the need for jobs. Most could not directly contribute to the growth of those sectors or reap the financial benefits of doing that. Instead many were laborers and worked for employers on the other side of town, doing jobs that would otherwise be considered beneath those same employers, janitors, ditch, diggers, dishwashers, and maids.
For example, it was their dollars that built Greenwood the first time. Not to mention in the months leading up to the massacre, there was a steep drop in oil prices followed by subsequent layoffs in oil fields, because irony never ceases to surprise while this further stifled economic growth. It, no doubt further increase the anger and jealousy of those who would come to carry out the horrific attack on Greenwood.
This is to say, Of the black Towson's, who decided to remain in their community and rebuild most had virtually none of the advantages that they had when black wall street was first created and for black people of the era, any advantage in a world that presented significant and constant obstacles to upward mobility, as it relates to African Americans, every advantage could make the difference between survival and the life well lived, or a life of extreme hardship.
After the massacre black Towson's had little to no access to previously advantageous streams of income they're insular economy. It was ground to a halt because their community was destroyed. The larger economy of Tulsa in general was also ground to a halt for several days. Following the massacre, the larger economy of Tulsa in general was ground to a halt for several days.
Following the massacre. Additionally, many black Towson's had incurred more debt with fewer and less expeditious ways of paying it off. Many had also lost loved ones in the massacre, which again, not only means the loss of invaluable life, but it also means the loss of another contributor to household responsibilities or income, and many had little to no ability to seek support from nearby relatives or friends, friends, as most of their neighbors were also experiencing similar hardship to further illustrate this point.
An excerpt from Hannibal Johnson's book, black wall street. The reconstruction of the Negro wall street after the Tulsa race riot of 1921, particularly that of deep Greenwood was nothing. If not remarkable, perhaps more than anything else, this rebuilding evidenced the determination of Tulsa's African-American pioneers to persevere, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and their struggle for freedom and economic.
Independence. Wilamena I guess, Howell and elementary preschool teacher in Tulsa for four decades and the niece of dr. Acey Jackson, the nationally renowned African-American surgeon killed in the riot recalled quote. My father went out to Howard university in Washington, D C to become a lawyer. Then he returned to Tulsa to devote his life, to helping his people.
When the riot burned down his office, he rebuilt it and continued to practice law until his death in 1931. End quote, another riot survivor. Why need to Alexander Lewis Hopkins also recalled Phoenix, like quality of the green with districts quote, after the riot TOSA rebuilt from the ashes. In fact, the Greenwood district after the riot was even more impressive than before the riot, right?
There are so many stories to be told about the Greenwood district. And it's determined people about it. Struggles with racism about its creativity, adoption and survival end quote. The chapter goes on to say quote, as it is Testament to the resilience and self sufficiency of Tulsa's African American community.
The rebuilding began even as the ashes. Liquor by 1922, the rebuilding of deep Greenwood was well underway. More than half of the destroyed churches began to hold worship services. Again, more than 80 businesses in the Greenwood district reopened the Negro wall street later referred to as the black wall street of America, reflecting the African American communities, changing sociopolitical identification.
Was well on its way to reclaiming its national reputation as an African American business center, par excellence, the burned out shows of the pre-write structures were for the most part, torn down many of the new buildings, however, assumed the forms of their predecessors in quote. The book goes on to explain that the white frame dream house of entrepreneurs, Sam and Lucy, Mackie was one of more than 1000 homes burned or destroyed by the massacred.
They had difficulty getting the funds needed to rebuild in 1926, with the help of an employer, the couple mortgaged, their property for $6,500 to the Oklahoma city building and loan association. They could not get the capital from a Tulsa bank. Nevertheless that year, the Mackeys built a new red brick fireproof hope.
That means it had no wood framing. The house remained in their family until it was purchased by the Tulsa, urban renewal authority and the 1970s. It is now known as the Mevo B little. Heritage house. One more excerpt from Johnson's book quote for so long, the Greenwood district boomed a stroll through Greenwood district during a TA day, the 1920 through the 1950s reveals a glimmer of the vast array of goods and services available to African Americans in their own community.
In the blocks of Greenwood Avenue and Archer street, where the offices of doctors, Patrick Payne and lift caught dr. Lift caught an ear nose and throat specialists doubled as a gynecologist. Obstetrician the Royal hotel owned by Simon Berry sat across the street as previously noted Barry built ptosis first.
And at the time the only public park available to African Americans and found it a Jitney bus service in the African American community later sold to the city of Tulsa to morticians and their wives. Sam and unis Jackson and ESCO and Bertha Jackson owned the Jackson funeral home next door to the Royal hotel down the street on Archer sat Williams garage owned by the Williams family nearby where Clarence loves lounge a popular night spot, this small hotel spinner cafe, a grocery store, a Swedish bath house, and a bowling alley.
So farther down was Lena Corbett's dress shop Neil's jewelry. Spans pool hall, Warren's cafe and the offices of dr. Agee Backwoods, attorney Amos T hall and attorney Primus wait in the same vicinity where the offices of the Oklahoma Eagle news newspaper, American business college, L H Williams drugstore cavers cleaners, swindle, and Joe bullet barbershops.
The dreamland theater owned by Lou Williams, the owl Tavern, Roy Johnson's pool hall. Isaac Rebuilders, a us post office substation, Sam Miguel variety store Bo where grocery store Walter Grayson Realty and the E L Goodwin popcorn stand. I am going to great links to explain the extent to which black wall street was eventually reborn because the fortitude, strength, resilience, faith, and tenacity.
It took to rebuild, cannot be overstated. Many of us today could hardly imagine experiencing an occurrence such as the Tulsa race massacre, surviving it and rebuilding one, if not the most prosperous African American community in the country. In a segregated Jim Crow, post slavery region of America all while living right next door to the perpetrators who burned it down in the first place.
And yet this is very much part of the black experience in America. That's something so beautiful could be built out of something so ugly. It's not only commendable, but it is one of the finest things. Examples I can think of to overcome the darkest viral, like maniacal expressions of hate. Stare him in the face and politely step over it and carry on not forward, but upward rather than hearing more excerpts of his book.
Let's hear from Hannibal Johnson himself, as he describes black wall streets, regeneration.
the important thing to understand about this story and the devastation that was wrought on the community. Is that the human spirit ultimately provided vowed to stay. Many of them vowed to stay and to rebuild. And they did just that by 1925, the community was rebuilt substantially such that Booker T Washington national Negro business, like the black chamber of commerce held their annual meeting here in Tulsa, the community economically in the early to mid 1940s.
And did deed wind Olson's decided to rebuild after the massacre. They did encounter legal challenges from people in the community. Some corporate interests in the community who want it to make it difficult for them to be able to do. So point that I would make is at the Tulsa Tribune. I mentioned that daily afternoon newspaper published a series of inflammatory articles and editorial.
Well, just three days after the devastation of the massacre on June 4th, 1921, the Tulsa Tribune public. It's an editorial about the prospect of rebuilding the Greenwood County immunity. And it was entitled. It must not be again, and it's the rather lengthy piece, but the first two lines are telegraphic in terms of the message.
That's a district as the old nigger town must never be allowed in Tulsa. Again, it was a cesspool of iniquity and corruption. This is, this is leading newspaper in the city of Tulsa of which the Greenwood district is a part saying that that's a district as the old nigger town must never be allowed in Tulsa.
Again, scores of people have just been killed. More than a thousand homes have been destroyed. Millions of dollars in property damage has just been done yet. The attitude of some of the leadership in the community is that it's reflected in the Tulsa Tribune, editorial, which was not unlike a lot of the, I guess, sentiments of segregationists and racists in Tulsa at the time.
So you mentioned how remarkable it was that. The folks who stayed behind to rebuild Greenwood, what is also known as black wall street did. So in the years that followed the massacre, but they were not able to do so easily. Many of them were not able to have their insurance cover the homes, the damages that had been done to their property.
Many of them had to take out loans and encountered obstacles doing so. How on earth did these people rebuild in a community, a city that ultimately tried to stop them from doing so and in an economy that did not make it easy for them to do so. They use every trick in the book. I think what I would say, for example, we know that the NAACP, the national office in New York sent money here to help with the rebuilding.
We know that the fact that the national Negro business league Booker T Washington black chamber of commerce helps meeting here in 1925. That was a show of solidarity. Yeah. That was a signal of support to the rebuilding effort here in Tulsa. So people borrowed, they relied on family. They sought financial assistance from outside the country.
You know, they, they did everything that they could sort of make it until the rebuilding could occur and the economy could be revived. And again, as a business community, Black wall street or the Greenwood district peaks in about 1942. So the rebuilding was difficult, but it was ultimately quite successful.
Would you say black wall street was even more successful in terms of being a thriving community than it had been before the massacre at that point? Yes. Certainly in terms of just the numbers of businesses and the numbers of, of entrepreneurs and I, black wall street is, is certainly a catchy phrase, but a more accurate descriptor of the community.
Both before and after would be black main street. And I say that because most of these were mom and pop type businesses. So proprietorships, they were doctors, offices, lawyers, offices, dental offices, pharmacies, general drug stores, cleaners. Haberdasheries. It is salons, barbershops, pool halls, dance halls, movie theaters, small business.
These were not financial empires. These were, these were small business folks in great concentration in this particular community. And that is something that I find really interesting. Can you tell me though? We know that a lot of people in Tulsa before the massacre and after the massacre were deeply religious people, and there were quite a number of churches that had been established when the massacre happened.
Can you tell us what role the black church played in Greenwood? And that includes before the massacre and after the massacre. The black church has always played a vital role in the community. The two historic churches that we talk about most often in terms of the massacre in 1921. So terms of that still have a vital and vibrant presence here at Mount Vernon, AME church and Mount Zion Baptist church.
So Vernon AME. Actually has a piece of the structure that was actually in existence in 1921, their basement has been preserved. The other part of the building was destroyed. It's rebuilt the dirt floor on top of the foundation of Mount Zion was all that was left of Mount Zion after the massacre in 1921.
But those churches and other churches are still vibrant parts of the community. I actually hosted somebody this past weekend, took them on a quick tour of part of the North part of town. And what we noticed is that there's a church on virtually every corner. So the religious influence has been pretty strong here
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