By Rachel Curry (Public)
- The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre destroyed Black Wall Street, along with $200M of Black-owned property wealth
- About 23% of Black Americans own decentralized alternative assets like cryptocurrencies
Black Wall Street has long been a symbol of economic hope and success, due to the entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated by Greenwood residents who thrived together at a time when it wasn’t common, in the face of racism and segregation in the early 1900s. With an estimated $200 million of Black-owned property wealth destroyed during the Tulsa Race Massacre there are people like Kevin Matthews II, author of “From Burning to Blueprint: Rebuilding Black Wall Street After a Century of Silence,” breaking down on Public.com exactly what took place in 1921 and how we move forward. As a Tulsa native, Matthews made it his mission to find out the roots of the race riot that killed nearly 300 people in 12 hours. Moreover, he seeks to answer the question, “How do we get back to the blueprint that Black Wall Street had set prior to the travesty?”
Why This Matters: At the time, Tulsa was a center for mob justice. The Klu Klux Klan was highly active and the Red Summer of 1919 recently occurred. Black Wall Street juxtaposed that. In the 35-square-block Greenwood District, Black business owners had five hotels, 31 restaurants, eight doctor’s offices, two movie theaters, 24 grocery stores, and more. The white supremacist burning and attack on May 31, 1921 decimated that.
While the Black Wall Street of the past cannot be recreated, it’s important to unpack its lasting impact on the road to closing the racial wealth gap and what role the capital markets play in this process. CultureBanx noted there are platforms shining a light on what happened in Tulsa like Public, with great fortitude to bridge the gap between Wall Street and everyday investors including underserved groups.
“Our Public Live audio shows are designed to unpack breaking news in the markets and emerging investing trends so that our members have the resources they need to be better investors,” said Katie Perry, a GM at Public.com. “Understanding history is critical to navigating the present, and Black history is especially relevant to our current economic environment.”
What happened back in 1921 is still very relevant today. After the attack, insurers denied every claim from Black Tulsa residents who lost property. Financial injustices like this have continued to occur in America. Specifically, a 2020 Citigroup Bank study quantifies that the U.S. would have generated $16 trillion by closing racial gaps 20 years prior. However, that erasure is reversible and closing the wealth gap is possible.
What’s Next: While half as many Black families invest in the stock market as white families, that’s changing. During the pandemic, 47% of new investors were African American. Decentralized alternative assets like cryptocurrency are gaining significant traction among Black Americans. “It’s more decentralized and there is not a governing body that may or may not be biased towards certain groups,” Matthews said. Perhaps investors can use these assets as an avenue for generating wealth if it fits in with their investing strategy.
CBx Vibe: “From Tulsa to Today: The Significance of Black Wall Street” Kevin Matthews (Public)
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Rachel Curry is Pennsylvania-based content writer and journalist talking all things finance. She likes to give meaning to numbers by humanizing them. You can connect with her on Twitter at @writingsofrach.