The Glover Report: Long Live the Spirit of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street

The purpose of Bmorenews’ Joe Manns Black Wall Street Awards

By Doni Glover, Publisher

(BALTIMORE – May 31, 2019) – Since 2011, and its partners have been recognizing black entrepreneurs and professionals as well as the people who support them regardless of race. What initially began as a business networking event, the Harambee Dinner Club, way back at our inception in 2002 has since morphed into what is now a 6-city series that has honored over 1,500 individuals. Honorees receive the coveted Joe Manns Black Wall Street Award. Thus far, we have taken these awards to New York City, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Atlanta and New Orleans.

For the record, we named these awards after Joe Manns because he is the quintessential example of the Spirit of Black Wall Street: On a daily basis, Joe Manns is the type of person who is willing to help his neighbor. I know him personally to give a lot back to the community. Better yet, we wish there were a million more just like him with a heart for people.

We present these awards, no doubt, in memory of the 600 or so African American-owned businesses that were bombed from the air and burned to the ground in Tulsa’s Greenwood section May 31-June 1, 1921 by a mob of angry, jealous white people. We believe that we cannot allow the efforts of people like O. W. Gurley to be forgotten.

Photo: Black Wall Street HARLEM in 2018 at MIST Harlem on 116th St.

Many do not know it, but the GAP Band late 70s hit “You Dropped the Bomb on Me” was dedicated in memory of this tragic 2-day massacre. It was the first time this nation bombed its own citizens. Many also do not know that GAP is actually an acronym for a major intersection in Tulsa – Greenwood, Archer and Pine.

Obviously, Black Wall Street Tulsa was envied for its success. It remains the single, most magnanimous accomplishment by African Americans in this country that clearly demonstrated what we can accomplish through our own self-determination efforts. The 35-square blocks of Greenwood is a perpetual reminder of Black Excellence, even amidst the most racially hostile and savagely terrorist atmospheres.

We honor our African American ancestors who mastered entrepreneurship and business. Given the challenges facing African Americans in 2019, we believe that entrepreneurship is still a most viable solution to many of these ills. We know that black-owned businesses are most likely to hire African Americans. So, common sense suggests we need as many of these businesses as possible to be successful so that they can hire more and more black people.

As a news publisher, I am constantly reminded of the negative images that flood the media about black people. Turn on the 6 o’clock news, and all we see is black people killing other black people. Most of us know that there is so much more to our beloved community than just drug dealers and killers. Most of us with a modicum of common sense know darn well that in our community, we have doctors, lawyers, scientists and engineers. However, we are nonetheless bombarded regularly with less savory images. For too many, this becomes a reality. And that is a big reason why is ever committed to correcting and illuminating the true story line.

We are more than thugs. We have demonstrated our business savvy in the past only to only have it stripped away. Yet, the wisest among us know that if we did it before, if we were able to succeed in 1921 – then we can certainly succeed right now!

Long live the Spirit of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street!

PS – Tulsa was not alone. Oklahoma had over 25 other independent black communities including Boley. Texas had about 25 in the Eastern part of the state. In fact, wherever there were black people, there was some type of black business district. Also, in addition to Tulsa, both Richmond’s Jackson Ward and Durham (centered around North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company) had “Black Wall Streets.” 

In Brooklyn, there was Weeksville which goes back to the early 1800s and was began by free blacks. Manhattan had Seneca Village, which is now part of Central Park. Detroit had Black Bottom. Chicago had Bronzeville. Florida had Rosewood. Birmingham had the 4th Avenue district. These are but a glimpse into a very storied past, one that is so hidden yet full of riches. 

Black Wall Street New Orleans, 2015

Black Wall Street ATL, 2015

Black Wall Street 25th Street, Baltimore, 2014

Black Wall Street BALTIMORE, 2014

Black Wall Street BWI-THURGOOD MARSHALL, 2019

Black Wall Street SOUTHEAST DC, 2019

Black Wall Street BOWIE, 2018