Atlanta Rapper and community activist Mike Render’s new banking venture, Greenwood, takes its name from an Oklahoma community that was considered the wealthiest Black community in the United States and was known to most as “Black Wall Street” before residents were attacked, beaten, and killed in a riot.
The Tulsa race massacre has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American History, which took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921 in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Tulsa race massacre occurred when mobs of white residents, many of them deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and businesses in the predominantly Black Greenwood neighborhood. The attack, carried out on the ground and from the air by private aircraft, was said to have lasted 18 hours and destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district. About 10,000 Black people were left homeless, and property damage amounted to more than $1.5 million in real estate and $750,000 in personal property (equivalent to $32.25 million in year 2019). Blacks and Whites were killed during the riot, but conflicting reports on the total number who died have varied based on who was reporting. The body count was as low as a few dozen to as high as several hundred losing their lives during that turmoil.
For over 75 years, the massacre was largely omitted from local, state, and national histories but in 1996 a legislative body with bipartisan support authorized formation of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.
Published in 2001, the commission’s final report concluded that the city had conspired with the mob of White citizens against Black citizens. They recommended that survivors and their descendants receive reparations. Legislation was later passed to establish scholarships for descendants of survivors, to encourage economic development of Greenwood, and to develop a memorial park in Tulsa to honor the massacre victims.