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One hundred and two years ago, in May 1921, 10,000 Black people were mostly just living their lives and minding their business in the neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma when their existence would be shattered. The destruction and pain that would befall the residents of the Greenwood neighborhood, aka Black Wall Street, after the Tulsa Race Massacre, would send a devastating signal to Black people around the country that whatever you strive to build will ultimately be destroyed in the blink of an eye.

Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa, Okla., was the pulse of the Black business community. Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

It took less than 24 hours for everything to be destroyed, but a few people managed to live to tell the story. Hughes Van Ellis was one of the Race Massacre survivors as well as World War II veteran, and recently at 102 years, Hughes has now signed into an even larger Black Wall Street as he takes his eternal rest.

For all of your enduring years of life and memory, we salute you and wish you eternal peace.

An elderly Black man with a WWII veteran hat, glasses and in a suit poses in front of the camera
Mr. Hughes Van Ellis, courtesy of The Justice for Greenwood Foundation

You can support the efforts to bring reparations to the descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre on the Justice for Greenwood website.

For a detailed account of the Greenwood neighborhood before and after the destruction, check out this well-done interactive representation of Black Wall Street, courtesy New York Times.

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