Black Wall Street

This page is the information for the Black Wall Street Exhibit. The exhibit is divided into three sections. Please enjoy, and review the slide presentation on the display screens for each section inworld.

Reconstruction to Black Wall Street

The Reconstruction era (1861 to 1900), the historic period in which the United States grappled with the question of how to integrate millions of newly freed African Americans into social, political, and labor systems, was a time of significant transformation within the United States.

Many southern areas of the USA created Black Codes, or laws designed to ensure the recently released Slaves/Black People could not prosper and would be pulled into a new form of slavery, known as economic slavery and prison slavery.

During this period many Blacks prospered by working together and building their own towns and semi-sustainable communities. Dusable also around this time founded Chicago, the first Black owned trading post also called a MALL today.

This building represents the style of buildings first developed and used by free people to start their businesses.

Please review the slides behind the exhibit for more information

Black Wall Street 1880 – 1920

Black Wall Street is a term to represent specific towns, cities, and sections of cities in which Black people gathered, lived, worked and created businesses which interacted with each other. The businesses like in today’s world ranged from raw materials to products, to services.

Although the initiatives were not 100% self sustainable they were incredible acts when given the recent issues with slavery. In these towns Black people thrived, pushing the boundaries of education and often inventing most of the things we have in the world today. See the sections on Inventions.

An example of a prosperous city although it started its roots in slavery and plantations is Durham, NC. North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company, The company started in 1898 by seven Black men. It became the largest and oldest Black-owned insurance company in the country. The company existed until 2021.

An of the building style used is in the exhibit, these buildings moved away from multipurpose general stores, to more specific products and niche markets.

Please review the slides behind the exhibit for more information

Black Wall Street 1900 – 1930

Black business quickly moved from raw and finished products to financing, accounting and legal services.The Mechanics and Farmers Bank, North Carolina’s oldest black-owned bank, was established in 1908 in Durham under the auspices of the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association (renamed the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1919). The original charter members included Richard Fitzgerald, John Merrick, Aaron M. Moore, William G. Pearson, J. C. Scarborough, Charles C. Spaulding, J. A. Dodson, and Stanford L. Warren. The bank first operated from space in the building of the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association, later moving to a building on West Parrish Street.

Mechanics and Farmers became an important source of financing in the 1920s, saving more than 500 African American farms and residences, when its loan department provided $200,000 in individual loans. The bank’s policy stated its intent to provide “no large loans . . . to a few profiteers, but rather conservative sums to needy farmers and laborers.”

An example of the types of buildings in use is behind this sign, notice the change in architecture and focus on building enhancements. During this time many Black business created innovations that are still in use today.

Please review the slides behind the exhibit for more information

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