By Sulaiman Z. Salaam Sr.
After the Civil War, many African Americans settled in Oklahoma because of employment opportunities from the oil fields. Around 1908, the community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was established. And businesses owned by African Americans flourished!
The African American community was the best. Their schools were excellent. Students were purpose driven and focused on learning. Education was a priority with African American parents. Nepotism amongst Black folk was the norm.
The Greenwood community was given the “coined” name of “Black Wall Street.” This name was fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-Black communities in America. It also was known as “Little Africa.”
Black Wall Street was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s. It proved that African Americans had a successful infrastructure. As far as resources, there were PhD’s, attorneys, teachers, farmers and general business owners.
One doctor, Dr. Berry, owned the bus system. His average income was $500 a day. There were pawn shops, brothels, jewelry stores, churches, restaurants and two movie theaters. All of these were Black owned and operated.
This was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six Blacks owned their own planes. This community was fascinating, to say the least. The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community.
Today, in 2012, a dollar leaves the Black community every three minutes.
The question now is: Have we become so engrossed with climbing up the corporate ladder, that we fail to make and market a new and improved ladder? Have our minds become so dulled by a dummied-down educational system and celebrity icon, “life in the fab lane,” fanaticism, that we can no longer sense the urgency of the economic blight of our own community?
Where is the tenacity and determination exuded by those who survived the transatlantic slave voyage? Where is the sense of community exhibited by the Freedom Marchers, Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, the original Black Panther Party, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) members under the tutelage of Marcus Garvey, and many other “unification” based organizations?
The African American Connection (AAC) is one such organization. The AAC is a Black owned and operated, Internet based, virtual mall of African American businesses. The AAC asserts that the African American community should take it upon themselves to do what needs to be done to enhance and improve the condition of the African American community-at-large.
The AAC provides every citizen of the African American community with a viable segue toward leveling the economic playing field. This is structured on an African American owned, web-based solution that is supported through African American community participation.
The unemployment rate in the African American community is double the national average and growing. However, there are options, opportunities and venues that are available to those willing to begin to UNITE TO MAKE A CHANGE.
Are you the one? Are you the one willing to take your place in bringing about this change? Are you capable of informing others and arming them with the facts, so that they might be similarly inclined? This is not the time to bemoan our condition but to take steps to change our condition.
This is not the time to bask in the cesspool of victimization, but to choose to be immersed in the energizing waters of victory. This is not the time to expect more of the same, but to create a noticeable difference.
There is an African proverb which states, “Tears are best dried with your own hand.” As a community of African Americans, we must determine to make the change(s) with an assertive and insightful attitude that says, “If not us, then who?”
Find out more by attending the upcoming webinars offered by the AAC. Come and find out how we are re-building Black Wall Street in a virtual African American Community. We look forward to building your income while also building our community.