by Dee Dee Bass Wilbon & Deana Bass Williams (#TheBassSisters)
There are many lessons we can learn from Black Wall Street. We believe one of the most
overlooked lessons is what a community can achieve if individuals are given authority over their ideas and rightful ownership of the fruits of their labor.
The Black community in Tulsa pre-1921 is a case study of free markets and the power of capitalism. When left to thrive independent of destructive government forces, people of little means can create wealth and prosperity through the free market. It was ingenuity, thrift, hard work and yes, capitalism that gave birth to Black Wall Street.
We have heard arguments that capitalism is a corrupt economic model that caused the riots and paved the way for people’s property to be taken. On this point, we strongly disagree. Racism, mob rule, and the government putting its brutal bloodied thumb on the scale brought a tragic end to the prosperity that was ushered in by capitalism.
Photo: Truck carrying African Americans to safety during the Tulsa race riot of May 31 through June 1, 1921. The official death count was 39 but other estimates range from 55 to 300. Photo by Alvin C. Krupnick Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma.