Greenwood Historical District - Tulsa, OK
Greenwood is a historic freedom colony in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses in the United States during the early 20th century, it was popularly known as America's "Black Wall Street". It was burned to the ground in the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, in which white residents attacked the area. Between 75 and 300 people, mostly black, were killed, hundreds more were injured, and 5,000 people were left homeless. The massacre was one of the largest in the history of U.S. race relations, destroying the once thriving Greenwood community.
Within ten years of the massacre, surviving residents who chose to remain in Tulsa rebuilt much of the district. They accomplished this despite the opposition of many white Tulsa political and business leaders and punitive rezoning laws enacted to prevent reconstruction. It continued as a vital black community until segregation was overturned by the federal government during the 1950s and 1960s. Desegregation encouraged blacks citizens to live and shop elsewhere in the city, causing Greenwood to lose much of its original vitality. Since then, city leaders have attempted to encourage other economic development activities nearby.
The Greenwood Historic District in north Tulsa is one of the most culturally notable parts of the city. This historic neighborhood was where Count Basie first heard big band music and was also the inspiration for the name of The GAP Band, a famous funk group. Most significantly, Greenwood was once one of the most affluent African American communities in the United States with a population of over 10,000 people.
In the early 1900s, wealthy African American landowner O.W. Gurley moved from Arkansas to Tulsa and bought 40 acres of land. He sold sections of this land to other African Americans, and the settlement grew as Oklahoma became a state. Entrepreneur J.B. Stradford also helped build the area, adding popular black-owned businesses and fostering a sense of community among residents. The area thrived, and the main thoroughfare on Greenwood Avenue was known as “Black Wall Street” by the 1920s. Black doctors, lawyers, and businessmen held offices along this street.
Greenwood Rising History Center
The Greenwood Rising History Center will be built at 21 North Greenwood Avenue on the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street. Construction of the History Center and 21 North Greenwood is expected to be completed in late May or June 2021.
Greenwood Cultural Center
The Greenwood Cultural Center, dedicated on October 22, 1995, was created as a tribute to Greenwood's history and as a symbol of hope for the community's future. It has a museum, an African American art gallery, a large banquet hall, and it housed the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame until 2007. The total cost of the Center was almost $3 million. The Center plays a key role in the reconstruction and unity of the Greenwood Historic District.
John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park
The ground was broken in 2008 at 415 North Detroit Avenue for a proposed Reconciliation Park to commemorate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. John Hope Franklin, son of B. C. Franklin and a notable historian, attended the groundbreaking ceremony. After his death in 2009, the park was renamed John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park. Attractions include two sculptures and a dozen bronze informational plaques. It is a park primarily designed for education and reflection and does not contain facilities for sports or other recreation.