In Tulsa, Oklahoma, we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of what some say was the worst documented civil war in our state. To African Americans, this Memorial Day weekend means so much. The loss of generational wealth through housing and businesses forever changed May 31-June 1, 1921. This year, we celebrate love and resilience for people who have never given up the fight for justice and equality.
Greenwood/Black Wall Street has been an important part of North Tulsa since its founding and continues to be an anchor into the hope and prosperity. North Tulsa, where Greenwood/The Black Wall Street is located, has long been overlooked, demonized, and criticized for its poverty, crime, and lack of education achievements. But those who truly know North Tulsa and its residents know a different place than what is portrayed on the television or from the lips of people who have never tried to understand North Tulsa.
Greenwood will get all the fanfare over the next few months, but we must remember what built the Black Wall Street: North Tulsans. Now that this part of North Tulsa is becoming more commercialized and popular, due to its proximity to downtown, it is "cool" to be associated with its revitalization.
For the Black survivors, who are over 100 years old, their lives were forever changed in the early 1900s. What happened to the stories about the 1921 Race Massacre from the white survivors and their descendants What stories have been passed down to their family members about what it was like to be white during that time and in the years after? Were there stories of people boasting about killing their fellow Tulsans that day? Were there stories about regret and sorrow? We need those stories - not to vilify their families who are now alive, but to get a full picture of why this happened.
Although this weekend is a celebration for Black people, it should reaffirm the need to create more Black Wall Streets around this country. I do not mean naming everything "Black Wall Street," but creating a level of ownership and accountability that produces generation upon generation of successful Americans who will make those who lost everything proud. Celebrities and dignitaries will be here, but we want action from them as well. We want them to continue the fight for equality and equity. We want our local government to represent Black people - not just when the cameras are on, but when the lights, the cameras, and action have left town.
It should not offend others when Black people show pride in themselves, their heritage, and their culture. Black people did not make it unpopular to represent any race in this country; the actions of others made it so. There are German events, Jewish events, European events - and you do not see a mass amount of Black people worried about that. It is because since the founding of this country, Black people have just wanted to mind their own affairs and see a better life for their families and communities.
Greenwood represents financial dominance, and the dollars Black people put into this economy by purchasing goods and services from predominantly non-Black people shows we are not the problem. We want to be a part of the solution and prosperity of America. We want our local grocery stores, car dealerships, shops, etc., to succeed. That is why we spend our dollars with our non-Black Tulsans.
We want to bridge the gap between races. We want to see white, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans all dancing, shopping, and supporting the resurgence of North Tulsa, and we have helped other parts of town be successful. Supporting a Black agenda does not mean limiting support for anyone else.
Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co., which produces Toasted Wine Fruit Spreads. He is also an author, his first book being "The Absent Father."