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The Greenwood Cultural Center is the keeper of the flame for the Black Wall Street era, the events known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, and the astounding resurgence of the Greenwood District in the months and years following the tragedy. Dubbed America's "Black Wall Street" by none other than noted author and educator Booker T. Washington, the 35-block Greenwood District surrounding the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street became a prosperous center for black commerce in the early 1900s. A hotbed for jazz and blues, and the site where Count Basie first encountered big-band jazz, the Greenwood District was the richest African-American neighborhood in North America.
All of that changed on June 1, 1921, when the events known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot (to date, still the single deadliest and most destructive act of racial violence and domestic terrorism in United States history) occurred. In less than 48 hours, more than 36 square blocks were burned to the ground, with more than 200 African-Americans murdered, more than 10,000 African-American left homeless, and more than 2,000 business destroyed (including churches, hospitals, grocery stores, and others). Amazingly, and against all odds, the Greenwood Districty prevailed. Without a single penny from the city, the county, the state, or the federal governments, and with every single insurance claim categorically denied, the District came back stronger than ever. In fact, less than a decade after the destruction, there more over 100 MORE active businesses in the ditrisct than there were before.
Today, the Greenwood Historical District showcases its heritage through pictorial exhibits at the Greenwood Cultural Center and the Mabel B. Little Heritage House. Free guided tours can be scheduled by calling the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation (JHFCR), housed in the Greenwood Cultural Center. JHFCR can be reached at 918.295.5009.