Black Wall Street: A History of Economic Empowerment

by Sherrie Samuels, Communications Manager
sherrie@tablesaltgroup.com

Table SALT Group is honored to announce a grant from the 400 Years of African American History Commission to create a curriculum chronicling the rich account of “Black Wall Street” in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. We are excited to participate in “Writing A New History” to authenticate the African American economic experience and share the story of business best practices and community cooperation that created an unbridled economy for a formerly deprived indigenous people.

Due to the unrivaled prosperity built by founder Ottowa W. Gurley and a team of likeminded entrepreneurs, Booker T. Washington tagged the district’s main avenue “Negro Wall Street”. Noted accomplishments nearly absent from urban life today were: business inception loans, a farm sourced grocery store, a superior education system, America’s largest black owned luxury hotel, a community hospital, two newspapers, and an economy that thrived during the Great Depression. Community wealth building strategies that fueled the economic mecca included: social interdependence, community reinvestment, and land ownership. 

We will explore how the Greenwood District became the economic success story of a cluster of small to medium-sized businesses working in collaboration with a cooperative community. We aim to describe how personal fortunes were built stemming from the dollars circulating in the region for an estimated 30 to 100 cycles. This forward thinking disenfranchised community proved that the key to a sustainable local economy is working together to build it.   

In contrast, contemporary solutions to promote entrepreneurial growth and innovation involve local small business development centers that provide education and consultation services. Underserved communities are also supported by sector partnerships that provide internship and apprenticeship programs through collaborations with the private sector, government, and education. These win-win initiatives intend to produce thriving businesses and a highly skilled middle-class workforce that, in turn, enhance community economic growth and development. Yet, disparity studies for reducing inequities for women and minority businesses show, these approaches may not be enough.

Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to follow this grant funded project on Black Wall Street. Collaborate with us to learn more about our research-based curriculum that’s helped hundreds of entrepreneurs get started and grow.

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