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Black Wall Street Rally organizer reflects on Greenwood's rebirth, future

black wall street greenwood tulsa mural
Posted at 4:58 AM, May 17, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The Black Wall Street Rally returns to Tulsa this weekend.

Some events kicked off on Thursday, May 16, the main features will start on Friday.

While the impact of the Tulsa Race Massacre looms large, organizers have their eyes set on Black Wall Street’s future.

This is the rally’s third year, the event started after the massacre's centennial in 2021.

While the legacy lives on in the generations of Black Tulsans impacted by it and in the placards where businesses once stood, one of the rally's organizers, Carmela Hill, wants the neighborhood to be known for more than that tragedy.

“We would like to be known for the strength and the resilience of this community," she said. "The strength being that historic Black Wall Street on Greenwood was amazing, hailed all types of Black families, and made them entrepreneurs. And then, with it being torn down and decimated, that’s not what we want to be known for."

"We want to be known for the strength of the rebuilding of it, seeing what it was then and honoring it by rebuilding it to make it what it is today and what it can be for Tulsa and for Black Wall Street for the future,” Hill added.

What is the Black Wall Street Rally?

The Black Wall Street Rally is held in the Historic Greenwood District.

It attracts people from all over the country who come here to learn about Greenwood and Black Wall Street. This especially became the case around and after 2021.

For many—even here in Green Country—that was the first time they had learned about the event that not only transformed the lives of many Black Tulsans—but also the landscape of the city.

Hill told 2 News that a major aim of this event is to honor Black Wall Street’s rich financial history and continue it by emphasizing financial literacy.

“The purpose of it is always the same. We are honored to share the history of Black Wall Street," she explained. "We are honored to share the entrepreneurial spirit as well as the community strength when business owners of color come together and really, truly strengthen their financial position. So, that was what Black Wall Street was about, and that’s what we educate everyone on.”

Leaders from local financial institutions will participate in a panel discussion, discussing the framework for building the modern-day Black Wall Street.

What to Expect at the Rally?

A big draw is the street festival that starts at 12pm on Friday, with an opening ceremony at 8pm.

black wall street greenwood tulsa
Hill also said many visitors, especially bikers, take pictures in front of iconic murals—like this one at the Greenwood Cultural Center—as a rite of passage to show that they’ve visited Tulsa to learn about Black Wall Street.

The event will run from 10am to 8pm on Saturday, May 18. Motorcycle drag racing will happen at the Tulsa Raceway Park starting at 2pm. The rally wraps up on Saturday evening with an Old School concert at BMX Park at 8pm, headlined by the SOS Band, located on Lansing Ave.

The largest part of the rally is free for spectators, who can expect Black Wall Street tours and national and local music groups, highlighted by performances by the Tina Tuner Musical, Tony Mason, and the Full Flava Kings.

During the rally, attendees can do demo rides at BMX Park with Indian Motorcycle Company and Harley-Davidson Motor Company.


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