In 1906, a wealthy African American, O.W. Gurley, moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and purchased 40 acres of land that he wanted to ensure would be sold only to other African Americans. Gurley provided a path to security and prosperity for Blacks struggling in the segregated Jim Crow South. His experiment created the Greenwood District. The main thoroughfare was known as America’s Black Wall Street.
The Greenwood District flourished in the early 1900s and emerged as an African American entrepreneur center. Craftsmen, merchants, architects, cobblers, attorneys, entertainers, artists, accountants, bankers, and manufacturers all found a home (and a market) there. Historians estimate that a dollar circulated 36 times in the community and may remain in Greenwood for as long as a year. At a time when the entire state of Oklahoma only had two airports, six Black families in the Greenwood District-owned their own private planes.