Everyone has heard of New York City's famous ‘Wall Street’, a place where the rich wallow in their own wealth, and ridiculous misdeeds occur on a daily basis. But not everyone has heard of ‘Black Wall Street’ and more precisely ‘The Black Wall Street Massacre’ that occurred on June 1st 1921.
And why is it that this story is no-where near as famous as the depiction of the Wall Street where Leonardo De Caprio and Jonah Hill play grown men that do whatever they want because they are really fucking rich?
Because first of all, most people at Wall street are white and most people in Black Wall Street are black and, like any injustice to any ethnic minority that has ever happened, all the bad things that happened to Black Wall Street has been covered up by white people.
Due to segregation laws that occurred at the time, the African American community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma (known by residents and locals as Black Wall Street) had become a rich and successful town. Through pumping money back into the economy that they had been restricted to due to the colour of their skin, and not being allowed to take part in activities in white towns.
It was even rumoured that one resident owned a plane, at the time they were living in this basically meant they were really fucking rich!
As a lot of white people in nearby towns were still struggling for money, sending their kids to bad schools and not living a life of luxury that their black neighbours clearly were, they were clearly jealous. But what could they do?
They were the ones who had created the rules of segregation after all and now the people who had suffered from the effects for so many years were finally getting something good to come from it.
However, on May 31st 1921, screams came from a commercial building where a young white girl worked as an elevator operator. After an older white man saw a young black teenage boy who worked as a shoe shiner running from the building he made an assumption that the girl had been raped by the teen.
Despite the girl never making an report of rape to the police, local authorities pressed charges against a black man that was being held at a police station.
Fearing for the young man's life a group of black people gathered outside the police station where a group of white people were already waiting. Fighting occurred, shots were fired and both black and white people were killed.
As news spread about what happened, white people rampaged Greenwood in mobs of thousands, killing, looting and burning stores and homes in what was at the time the wealthiest black community at the time.
Police joined in, firing bullets to whoever they could whilst overhead, jets dropped burning balls of turpentine onto the town. Cleary, the white people at the time had found a reason to wreak the havoc that had spawned from their jealousy, this was the excuse they had been waiting so long for.
The event was later described as a ‘race riot’, meaning that white people could not be arrested for the killing that occurred in the riot situation.
But this was not a riot as so many white people claimed. This was a massacre. This was murder. 10,00 black people lost their homes, 800 black people had been admitted to hospital, 6,000 black people were arrested and 300 black people died. Over $2,000,000 worth of damages occurred in Greenwood, a price which citizens never received a single penny in compensation for.
This is a horrific and tragic story that should never have happened. But the worst part about all this is not even that it was covered up as much as it was and the truth was only really discovered and acknowledged almost 80 years later. The worst part is that almost 100 years later, black people are still being penalised, attacked and discriminated against on a day to day basis and that these stories are still being covered up and forgotten.
How long will it be before racism ends forever?