Thursday, April 12, 2012

Race Riots, Black Wealth, and the GAP Band

     Anybody ever wondered what the gap in GAP Band stood for? Definitely not me, but the reason is so intense that it will change your view of them, and of the history of modern America forever. Allow your eyes to be opened by the depth of the GAP Band. Greenwood Ave., Archer and Pine St. the g,a,and p, respectively, three streets in Tulsa OK. home of the band, also home of  collectively two of the best and worst of what America has to offer, the latter being the worst atrocity committed by American citizens on American citizens ever. Black Wall St.( not the record label) the real BWS, 1921 Oklahoma a community of black doctors, lawyers, veterans, farmers, and small business owners working to build their community from within. At the time, Oklahoma was supposed to be a Black, and Indian state, its citizens even elected a black Governor who the Klan vowed to kill within 48 hrs. if he took office.
     The community was so tightly knit because money was traded hand to hand due to Jim Crow laws, little Africa, as it was called had many black millionaires due to oil on many properties, even when Indians married Blacks their families were given 40 acres and a mule, and whatever oil was found on their land. Oklahoma only had 2 airports in 1921 and 6 blacks owned their own planes. It was proof of successful black business structure where nepotism was key, and a dollar could circulate through the community for almost a year, and now a dollar leaves in about 15 minutes. So where'd it all go? My grandmother was alive already and I never heard  about this. By now we know It all ends the same. It always does.
     May 31, 1921 Dick Rowland shoe shiner, in danger of being lynched for the accusation of attempted rape of a white elevator operator. Black WW1 vets (welcomed home as heroes) there to protect Rowland, were threatened for bearing arms, and violence ensued, and in the end a white man lay dead shot by a black soldier. What followed the next day was nothing short of amazing. With the white residences of the surrounding communities lined up on the borders of Black Wall St. the Klan came in and burned the town down and hunted the black citizens. Roughly 3000 blacks died that day, along with 600 successful  businesses, and 21 churches. 21 restaurants, 2 airplanes, a bus system, hospitals, a bank, schools and a library. Not to mention 1500 homes. The Klan even dropped flaming gas cans from planes to bomb the people from above. 
     In 1997 the Tulsa Race Riot commission was formed to see if anything would be paid to the roughly 100 survivors. There was no insurance paid, or help from local or Federal Government agencies. Reparations were recommended, but the report states that only 300 were killed. Many bodies were thrown into rivers, down mine shafts, and buried in mass graves. Researchers using GPR (ground penetrating radar) found a mass grave outside of a cemetery that contained hundreds of bodies. Remember this is 1921 there are pictures of these riots, labeled with context look them up sometimes. I would paste them in but I'm going to see if I can learn anything else from the GAP Band.

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