Little Africa, by James Sears

Let me take you back in time and provide you with some knowledge. I will tell you about a place you will not hear about while attending college.

The time was 1870 to 1921 for your historical notation, the north side of Tulsa, Oklahoma is the actual recorded location.

North Tulsa was called, “Little Africa,” as this name marked praise. The most affluent black community in America, the witnesses were amazed.

Jim Crow laws created all-black communities, we cannot deny this, and right down racial lines, was how the United States was divided.

Tulsa Oklahoma was separated by the Arkansas River but not equal by any tale. The white side was not nearly as prosperous while the black community completely excelled.

Little Africa contained black doctors, politicians, oil barons, and many PhD’s, all black businesses, farmers, schools and many black attorneys.

Black owned restaurants, grocery stores, libraries, movie theaters, and places to sleep, so many prospering businesses that Greenwood Avenue was called Black Wall Street.

Yes, Black Wall Street because that is just how much money flowed. I am not making this up, it is researched, and this is the truth history holds.

Nepotism kept the money circulating within this community even for loans. Everyone purchased from their neighbor which caused the money to come back home.

Brotherly love and altruism were practiced while crimes were very low. Morals were taught to all and children actually did what they were told.

Neighbors volunteered to help other neighbors in times of trouble, and city families normally had five children while farming families had about double.

White coal miners came north Tulsa to work 72 hour long shifts as well. So, they too helped the pockets of these black business to swell.

In the 1800’s, Little Africa had its own transportation system to assist them all. Blacks kept to themselves and took care of each other so no citizen would fall.

From Greenwood Avenue to Archer and Pine streets life was prosperous and grand, and if you take the first letters of those street G.A.P., you will see that is where they got the name for the GAP Band. (Shot out to Uncle Charlie)

By 1921 there were over 100 black millionaires, six even owned airplanes. Black Wall Street was thriving and looking for more financial gains.

But on the south side, many whites lived below the poverty line, and white service men returning from World War I, also fell on hard times. “So, what happened to Little Africa?” one might say, well, the klu klux klan decided they were going to take all that prosperity away.

On the first of June 1921, envy, greed, and jealous took control, and a Black Holocaust in America was about to unfold. This race riot was one of the most violent ever carried out on American people. It was the largest massacre of non-military Americans in history with no recorded equal.

Within hours, scores of black owned business destroyed on the north side of town. 3,000 men, women and children missing or dead, and hundreds could not be found. Over 600 buildings destroyed, looted, and no longer around. Hundreds of homes lit up the skies as they burned right to the ground. Meanwhile, good white Christian families just watched and stood around, witnesses to the kkk killing anyone who’s skin color was brown.

Little Africa was unlawfully lynched as this massacre went for 72 hours and from yard to yard, until the white sheriff sent his black deputy to call up the State’s National Guard.

The National Guard came to prevent the loss of more innocent lives because death is what they saw, and the first order of business was to establish and enforce Martial Law.

They stopped the killings, aerial bombings, disarmed and sent the klan home, while doing their jobs. But they failed to save hundreds business, dozens of grocery stores, churches, restaurants, hundreds of homes and farms, two movie theaters, banks, schools, pawn shops, jewelry stores, and even a hospital laid in the wake of that hateful and angry mob.

Restitutions, never happened, insurance claims-dishonored and black voices were silenced. Mass graves around the city hid this act of complete and senseless violence.

Impacts, today African Americans have little nepotism and we have lost most of our financial power. We seldom support each other and our money leaves the community within about couple of hours.

Consider this your history lesson for today and do not underestimate your economic might, because if you do not honor and protect what you have, it could be gone over night.

James F. Sears, Jr. Mr. Speaker January 2012

Author: poetryfest

Submit your Poetry to the Festival. Three Options: 1) To post. 2) To have performed by an actor 3) To be made into a film.

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