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Black History Month, Week 1: Black Wall Street

Written and Curated by Sade Lancaster

This Black History Month, DESIGNxHUMANITY will do a deep dive into Tulsa and The Greenwood District's history, aka Black Wall Street. Our long-term strategic goals include a possible physical site in the district. For the next four weeks, we will be exploring the history of Greenwood in 4 parts:

Week One: Black Wall Street

Week Two: The Tulsa Massacre

Week Three: The Rebirth of the Greenwood District

Week Four: Current State of Greenwood

We invite you to join us in discussing the history of Greenwood beyond what happened on Memorial Day Weekend of 1921. If you're not subscribed to our newsletter yet and want to join us on this deep dive, click this link to subscribe:

Ottowa W. Gurley, most noted as the founder of Black Wall Street, or The Greenwood District in Tulsa Oklahoma, was an ambitious man. Prior to his work in Tulsa, Gurley and his wife, Emma staked claim to land in Perry, Oklahoma where he ran for county treasurer, was principal at the town's school, and ran a general store. In 1906, Gurley moved to Tulsa and began to create a city specifically for the part mobility of Blacks looking for opportunity.

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During the Jim Crow era, Black people were not allowed to make purchases or services in predominantly white areas. Black Wall Street became a place where Black people could hangout, shop, conduct business, and simply belong in a place where they were wanted and celebrated!

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In the early part of the 20th century, Greenwood was a thriving business district featuring Black owned businesses, a strong Black middle and upper class, schools, hospitals, and theaters. It was a bustling commercial and social “island” on the Northeast side of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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DxH is a design collective and apprenticeship program, collaborating on real-world projects to advocate for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).Donate to support our mission.

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