Feb 07, 2023

Question of the Day [Black History Month]: What US city was known as Black Wall Street in the early 1900s?

The state had only two airports, yet six black families owned their own planes in this city!


Answer: Tulsa, Oklahoma [Specifically the Greenwood District]


  • What were some of the ways that the residents of Black Wall Street were able to accumulate wealth?
  • What obstacles did the residents of Black Wall Street overcome to become financially successful?
  • How do the story of Black Wall Street and the resurgence of Black Wall Street today inspire financial wellness and success?

Here are the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.


Behind the numbers (JSTOR/Robb Report):

"The creation of the powerful black community known as Black Wall Street was intentional. “In 1906, O.W. Gurley, a wealthy African-American from Arkansas, moved to Tulsa and purchased over 40 acres of land that he made sure was only sold to other African-Americans,” writes Christina Montford in the Atlanta Black Star.

Gurley provided an opportunity for those migrating “from the harsh oppression of Mississippi.” The average income of black families in the area exceeded “what minimum wage is today.” As a result of segregation, a “dollar circulated 36 to 100 times” and remained in Greenwood “almost a year before leaving.” Even more impressive, at that time, the “state of Oklahoma had only two airports,” yet “six black families owned their own planes. Despite racial discrimination and Jim Crow segregation, the Greenwood district offered proof that black entrepreneurs were capable of creating vast wealth.

In 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, known as Black Wall Street, was one of the most prosperous African-American communities in the United States. But on May 31 of that year, the [Tulsa Massacre began], sparking two days of unprecedented racial violence. Thirty-five city blocks went up in flames, 300 people died, and 800 were injured.

Today’s Black Wall Streets share the spiritual DNA of their progenitors, but they aren’t bound by intersections and zoning board decisions. Increasingly, the Black Wall Street movement is as psychological—and digital—as it is physical.

“I talk about the Black Wall Street mindset, which is leveraging the history of the Black Wall Street, and recognizing that we have role models—recognizing that they faced seemingly insurmountable odds,” said Hannibal Johnson, a lawyer and author who’s based in Tulsa and has written extensively about Greenwood’s history." [Learn more about Black Wall Street today in the full article]



Check out other resources to celebrate Black History Month 2023!


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About the Author

Mason Butts

After graduating from UCLA with a Master's in Education, Mason spent 5 years as a science educator in a South Los Angeles public high school. He is committed to supporting the holistic growth of all students and empowering them to live a life of relational, academic, and financial success. Now settled in the Bay Area, Mason enjoys facilitating professional developments and partnering with educators as they prepare students for a bright financial future. When Mason is not building curriculum or planning a training, he can be found cycling, trying new foods, and exploring the outdoors.

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