Let’s set the scene shall we…
It’s an August summer night in 1982.
The windows are open in your Grandmas house.
Fingers are snappin, feet shuffling, all through the living room as someone turns up the jam.
The radio waves are booming with the new release from The Gap Band, “You Dropped A Bomb On Me.”
Cleverly named after Greenwood, Archer and Pine. Three streets located in the historical Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Some people will say the group is telling us a story of a man who got his heart broken after falling for the one.
Others will tell you that the brothers three, dropped a bit of history in a song that serenaded the world.
You already know the song (if you don’t, you’re sleep!), so I’m going to put you on to the history.
During the earlier 20th century this area was well known as Black Wall Street.
This is where idealogies like “it takes a village” and “for us, by us” were born.
Founded in 1906, the neighborhood featured its own school system, hospital, luxury shops, hotels, jewelers, barber shops, pool halls, night clubs, clothing stores etc.
It was said that money made outside of Greenwood was only spent in Greenwood. Money exchanged hands at least 19 times before leaving the community.
But of course, seeing black people flourish came with a flock of haters. The community was separated from white neighborhoods by guess what?
Some dang train tracks! Hollywood gets it right sometimes.
But any-who, lets keep the tea hot.
On May 30, 1921, a black, young 19-year old Dick Rowland became accused of sexual assault by a white, 17 year old Sarah Page.
We’ve heard this one before so y’all know what happens next right? I’ m gonna tell you anyway.
Rumor spreads and by the morning of May 31st, the allegations were all over the newspaper. The police then captured Rowland and demanded he be executed.
The blacks arrived at city hall prepared to defend their own and get Rowland released.
Different resources say shots were fired in the court house and all hell broke loose.
Within a matter of 12 hours, businesses and homes were torched and demolished by white civilians.
A plane flew over the neighborhood dropping
bombs and shooting down black townspeople. (Hence, “you dropped a bomb on me, baby”)
An estimated 300 African-Americans died, 800 were admitted to local hospitals, and 10,000 were left homeless. The riot ruined the community, as 600 businesses were destroyed.
By June 2nd, the survivors of what became known as the #BlackHolocaust, then sought refuge at a camp on the county fair grounds.
As the years passed, those who stayed helped rebuild a part of what used to be one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the nation.
Only one building remained standing after the #TulsaRaceRiot.
Crazy that such an event has so many hashtags but doesn’t it make you pose the question…
Can we as a culture thrive in a all black community today, such as our ancestors did then?
Is it really that hard to buy black?
If you challenged yourself, do you think you could shop at 19 black establishments before spending a white dollar? If it can’t be done now, what can we do to get there?
Welp that’s my tea for #TJTuesday. When you #SparkTheConversation, tell them TJ taught you!