The corner of Greenwood and Archer holds a significant place in history, particularly for the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, also known as “Black Wall Street.” In this article, we will explore the businesses that once thrived on this iconic corner, highlighting their impact on the community and the tragic events that unfolded.
The Prosperous Greenwood District
A Thriving Business Hub
During the early 20th century, the Greenwood District of Tulsa flourished as a vibrant and prosperous African American community. It was home to a multitude of successful businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, banks, hotels, theaters, and more. Greenwood Avenue, which intersected with Archer Street, was the heart of this bustling district, often referred to as “Black Wall Street.”
Entrepreneurial Spirit and Economic Growth
The businesses that lined the corner of Greenwood and Archer were a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and economic growth within the Greenwood District. African American entrepreneurs seized opportunities, defied racial barriers, and established thriving enterprises that catered to the needs and aspirations of the community.
The Tragic Events of 1921
The Tulsa Race Massacre
Tragically, the success and prosperity of the Greenwood District were violently disrupted in May 1921. The Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the most devastating incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, unfolded over a period of two days. A mob of white residents attacked the Greenwood District, looting and burning businesses, homes, and churches. The corner of Greenwood and Archer, once a symbol of progress and prosperity, became a site of destruction and loss.
Destruction and Rebuilding
In the wake of the Tulsa Race Massacre, countless businesses on the corner of Greenwood and Archer were destroyed or heavily damaged. The once-thriving entrepreneurial community faced immense challenges as they worked to rebuild their lives and businesses from the ashes. Despite the adversity they faced, the resilient residents of the Greenwood District were determined to restore their community and regain their economic strength.
The Legacy of Greenwood and Archer
Rebuilding and Resurgence
In the decades following the Tulsa Race Massacre, efforts were made to rebuild the Greenwood District. Despite facing significant obstacles, businesses began to emerge once again on the corner of Greenwood and Archer. The resilience and determination of the community laid the foundation for the ongoing revitalization of the area.
Commemoration and Remembrance
Today, the corner of Greenwood and Archer stands as a testament to the resilience, strength, and perseverance of the Greenwood community. Efforts have been made to commemorate the history and honor the legacy of Black Wall Street. The Greenwood Rising History Center and the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park serve as reminders of the past and catalysts for healing and unity.
The corner of Greenwood and Archer holds a storied history, reflecting both the success and tragedy experienced by the Greenwood District. Once a vibrant hub of African American entrepreneurship and economic growth, the businesses on this corner were symbols of hope and progress. The devastation of the Tulsa Race Massacre left scars that were difficult to heal, but the community’s resilience and determination have sparked a resurgence and a commitment to preserving the legacy of Greenwood.