PHOTO ESSAY: ‘Honoring Our Black Wall Streets’ Commemorates Tulsa Massacre
by Ronnie Estoque and Susan Fried
Almost 200 Black-owned businesses participated in “Honoring Our Black Wall Streets” on Memorial Day, in the Central District, to honor Black Wall Street on the 100th anniversary of its tragic destruction. The memorial event was organized by King County Equity Now, Black Dot, and Africatown community organizers and celebrated the resilience of the local Black business community.
In May of 1921, a white mob in Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked the predominantly Black neighborhood of Greenwood, which was known as “Black Wall Street.” The Tulsa Massacre claimed the lives of around 300 Black people living in the community, with many of their businesses and homes burnt to the ground in the riot. Activism in recent years has shed more light on this horrendous event, and those in the Black community in Seattle are continuing to honor the legacy of Black Wall Street through continuing their demands of anti-gentrification measures and reinvestment into historically Black neighborhoods.
In addition to all kinds of businesses including clothing, book, jewelry and food vendors, numerous artists were also represented on Monday. The event was kicked off by the singing of the Black National Anthem and an honoring of Black people who have passed away. The day also included live performances and a community “Electric Slide” for over 20 minutes. Although the day acknowledged a terrible moment in American history, the people gathered paid tribute to the Black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma by supporting Seattle’s many Black-owned businesses and artists.
Ronnie Estoque is a Seattle-based storyteller and aspiring documentarian. He is driven to uplift marginalized voices in the South Seattle community through his writing, photography, and videography. You can keep up with his work by following his Twitter and Instagram.
Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. In addition to weddings, portraits, and commercial work she did early in her career, she has been the Skanner Newspaper’s Seattle photographer for nearly 25 years. Her images have appeared in a variety of publications including the University of Washington Daily, the Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.