The Austin African American Business Network Association embarked on a historic bus trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the Memorial Day weekend to take part in the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival.
Creating “Black Wall Street meets Soul City,” AAABNA partnered with Main Street America, and experienced a remarkable journey that honored the resilience and entrepreneurship of the Black community in the Greenwood District.
Greenwood is the site of what is believed to be the single worst incident of racial violence in American history, the bloody 1921 outbreak. During the course of just 18 hours on May 31 and June 1, 1921, more than 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, and upwards of several hundred Tulsa residents were killed, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.
“Most of the city’s 10,000 African American residents lived in the Greenwood District, a vibrant neighborhood that was home to two newspapers, several churches, a library branch and scores of black-owned businesses,” according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. “By the time the violence ended, the city had been placed under martial law, thousands of Tulsans were being held under armed guard, and the state’s second-largest African American community had been burned to the ground.”
During the trip, the two groups signed documentation and presented legislation, drafted by state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, adopted by the Illinois House of Representatives, committing to both building and supporting a strong foundation for Black economics.
“We extend heartfelt gratitude to our incredible sponsors, such as, the Chatham Business Association, who made this trip possible. Your support has not only allowed us to commemorate an important moment in history but also to sow the seeds of economic empowerment. Together, we are fostering opportunities and creating lasting change,” AAABNA executive director Malcolm Crawford said in a Facebook post earlier this week.
“Let’s continue to honor the legacy of Black Wall Street and Soul City by championing economic growth, empowering Black-owned businesses and cultivating an environment of success,” Crawford wrote. “Stay tuned for more content from Black Wall Street meets Soul City.”