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Tulsa Race Massacre: Greenwood was defined by freedom and opportunity before massacre
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Tulsa Race Massacre: Greenwood was defined by freedom and opportunity before massacre

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“I came not to Tulsa as many came, lured by the dream of making money and bettering myself in the financial world, but because of the wonderful cooperation I observed among our people, and especially the harmony of spirit and action that existed between the business men and women.”

That is the way Mary E. Jones Parrish, a young businesswoman, described Tulsa’s African American community in 1921.

By May 1921, Tulsa’s Greenwood had become, as Parrish described it, “the Negro Metropolis of the Southwest.”

Others called it “Black Wall Street,” a title bestowed by Booker T. Washington, according to tradition.

Like their white neighbors, Greenwood residents took great pride in their community as a place where a person could get ahead through hard work and wise investment. They were not completely free to pursue whatever dream they wished, but they were freer. They built homes and businesses, schools and churches.

Most of all, they built hope.

— Stories by Randy Krehbiel

Randy Krehbiel

918-581-8365

randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @rkrehbiel

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