In American History there has always been the paradigm of cultural shifts. In the late 1800’s, our country watched a group of Africans continue to rise from the cataclysmic sting of slavery into the main stream of financial wealth and economic freedom.
The Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, before it was burned to the ground by an angry mob, was the source of inspiration for many blacks around the country. A passion to spread the “American Dream” into the hearts of a group of dreamers, helped each philanthropic endeavor to spread across the city. The modern day mantra “Spread out in your influence until everything feels your impact,” was indeed the battle cry of those seeking to break the oppression of the mental, spiritual, and economic tyranny that existed.
The self contained Black Wall Street, defined wealth as: “knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and experience, all working together to produce trans-generational economic, security, solvency, and stability.” This attitude was the bench-mark in the opulence and comfort, found in their daily routine.
There were twenty-one churches that decorated the Tulsa sky-line during this prosperous period. The citizens of this rich city, were richer still in personal integrity and moral consciousness. And yet, there were men like Jeremiah G. Hamilton – the richest black man in New York- before the Civil War -who made $2 million dollars, the equivalent of $250 million dollars by today’s standards. Ruthless and cunning, he was called “The Black Wolf” of Wall Street. Perhaps he was forced to push the envelope in his favor, back toward the “negro” side of the economic table. As one businessman put it, “We must have integrity in business if our contemporaries will take us seriously. Others may lack a good conscious in business, but we will always side in with our best friend at night.”
During this tumultuous time, there were questions raised about Dick Rowland and Sarah Page, the two main characters of this mixed Shakespearean drama; Was Dick Rowland and Sarah Page in love? Maybe. Were they secretly engaged and planning a concupiscent elopement to California? Maybe. Did he in fact, step on her foot in an elevator and cause the searing pain of her crumped toes, to cry out in agonizing and yet wanton desire for her lover? Maybe. Or, was the race riot the result of the disparaging gap between the Have’s and the use to “Have?” Maybe.
Richard Robert Wright, Sr., the American military officer, educator, college president, politician, civil rights advocate and banking entrepreneur, when asked by retired Union General Oliver Otis Howard, what message he should take to the North. The young Wright reportedly told him, “Sir, tell them we are rising.”
From the 35 square blocks of the Black Wall Street devastation, WE ARE RISING! To the White House, we are rising! From major telecommunication networks around the world, we are rising! From Fortune 500 companies, we are rising! From major positions in American culture, we are rising! From $1.5 million dollars in property damages in 1921, to $1.1 trillion dollars in buying power, the African American can still rise!
So, while your rising, remember to Keep standing on the Rock!