Ninety-nine years ago today, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of the most beautiful, prosperous, wealthy Black communities in the world was destroyed by terrorists. Today, with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, protestors across the globe, and the 1921 destruction of Black Wall Street in mind, Shaun teaches a lesson on how and why history repeats itself.
Ninety-nine years ago, white supremacists stormed the prosperous and predominantly Black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This white supremacist mob murdered hundreds and severely injured thousands of Black residents.
Referred to as “Black Wall Street,” Tulsa in the early 20th century was a mecca of affluent African Americans who built a strong community from the ruins of the civil war. It was a haven for the new, free generation of Black people, whose parents and grandparents were born into slavery. Its success as a blossoming city supported by Black businesses was an instant threat to the white supremacist groups that controlled the United States with an iron-clad grip. The mere existence of Black prosperity threatened their entire ideology.
Businesses and homes in Greenwood were set ablaze by planes from above. Men, women and children were lynched, beaten and murdered. It is the largest hate crime in American history, yet it is rarely taught in schools. The existence of this massacre goes against everything we as humans are taught to believe, that each generation is improving upon the last, that things in the world are getting better with time. We are trained to think that history works in an upward trend, when all evidence shows us it is in a repetitive cycle.
In today’s episode, Shaun breaks down the ways in which we must rewire our brains’ comprehension of history in order to understand the present and brace for the future.