It’s been nearly a 100 years since a race riot in 1921 destroyed the Black Wall Street in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Okhlahoma. And although much time has passed, 33-year-old Nehemiah Frank is fighting for it to return to its roots.
The self-proclaimed journalist launched the website and media platform The Black Wall St. Times in June. In a recent interview with NBC News, Frank said, “The Black Wall St. Times seeks to tell the history of Greenwood and north Tulsa, its people and their aspirations.”
At one point, during the existence of Black Wall Street, there were several Black-owned publications in Tulsa. But several decades later, after the race riot, only one remained before Frank launched The Black Wall St. Times.
During its peak, the Black Wall Street was so successful that a dollar would stay within the district an estimated 19 months before being spent elsewhere.
“It was incredible. It was the jewel of the West,” Frank said of Greenwood. “When everyone else in the Jim Crow South was living in poverty that is equivalent to third-world countries, these people were driving cars. They were educated, sending people to college. They were doctors, lawyers.”
But the legacy won’t live on if the story isn’t told.
“A lot of these young people are lost because they are looking to their phones for information and the information that they’re receiving is from a White perspective,” he said. “Those White perspectives aren’t always culturally competent to Black issues, so I figured this is something that needs to happen. No one else is doing it.”
Frank sees The Black Wall St. Times as an effort to not only tell Black stories but to have Black people author their own stories.
“We need to have representation in the media and we don’t have that,” he said, later adding: “A lot of African-Americans are left out because they don’t have information. So talking about sickle cell, which is a disease that disproportionally impacts African-Americans, is something they know about. They’re not going to talk about sickle cell in mainstream media in Oklahoma. They’re going to talk about ALS. But that thing doesn’t affect us; this is what affects us.”