BLACK WALL STREET
Greenwood is a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As one of the most successful and wealthiest African American communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, it was popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” until the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. The riot was one of the most devastating race riots in history and it destroyed the once thriving Greenwood community.
Within five years after the riot, surviving residents who chose to remain in Tulsa rebuilt much of the district. They accomplished this despite the opposition of many white Tulsa political and business leaders. It resumed being a vital black community until segregation was overturned by the Federal Government during the 1950s and 60s. Desegregation encouraged blacks to live and shop elsewhere in the city, causing Greenwood to lose much of its original vitality. Since then, city leaders have attempted to encourage other economic development activity nearby.
Cathy Hughes, born Catherine Elizabeth Woods in Omaha, Nebraska on April 22, 1947, is an African-American entrepreneur, radio and television personality and business executive. Hughes founded the media company Radio One and later expanded into TV One, the company went public in 1998, making Hughes the first and only African-American female to head a publicly traded corporation at the time. In the 1980s, Hughes created the urban radio format called The Quiet Storm.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH FACT:
Reginald F. Lewis received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1968. He was a partner in Murphy, Thorpes & Lewis; the first black law firm on Wall Street. In 1989 he became president and CEO of TLC Beatrice International Food Company. Lewis became the head of the largest black-owned business in the United States. TLC Beatrice had revenues of $1.54 billion in 1992.
“My response to fear is: do it anyway. Let nothing stop you. You have to push forward.” February 3, 1956, Selma University and Miles College alum Autherine Lucy enrolled at the University of Alabama as a graduate student in library science, becoming the first African American ever admitted to a white public school or university in the state. She was however barred from all dormitories and dining halls.
On the third day of classes, a hostile mob assembled to prevent Lucy attending classes. The University suspended Lucy on the grounds that it could not provide a safe environment. Lucy and her attorney Thurgood Marshall filed suit against the University to have the suspension overturned. However, this suit was not successful and was used as a justification for her permanent expulsion. University officials claimed that Lucy had slandered the university and they could not have her as a student. It would be seven years before another black student would enroll at the University of Alabama.
The University of Alabama finally overturned her expulsion in 1980, and in 1992, she earned her Masters degree in Elementary Education from the University that she had applied to decades earlier. The university named an endowed scholarship in her honor and unveiled a portrait of her in the student union overlooking the most trafficked spot on campus. The inscription reads “Her initiative and courage won the right for students of all races to attend the University”.
May 6, 1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act is signed into law.
In 1880, the Burlingame Treaty (which had established formal friendly relations between the United States and China) was amended in order to suspend Chinese immigration. Growing anti-Chinese sentiment, mostly resulting from low wages and unemployment, finally led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. It excluded “skilled and unskilled laborers employed in mining” from entering the country for a ten-year period, and it also prohibited Chinese immigrants from attaining citizenship. The act was controversial, even at the time. Many businesspeople opposed it, resenting the restrictions on their supply of cheap labor; in contrast, most labor unions supported it, with the notable exception being the IWW. And, of course, many Americans supported it for simple race-related reasons.
For years, the Chinese-American population remained stagnant, unassimilated, and largely male. The 1943 Magnuson Act finally repealed the Exclusion Act, and it also allowed for the naturalization of some Chinese-Americans already living in the country; at the same time, it restricted the national quota of Chinese immigrants to the negligible amount of 105 per year. Not until 1965 was the outdated national-origins quota system abolished altogether.