Oil was booming in the United States in the 1900s, and so was Tulsa, Oklahoma. The city grew as both the petroleum industry and its residents—Black and white—flourished.
After Oklahoma officially became a state in 1907, the legislature soon enacted Jim Crow laws and segregation policies; despite these obstacles, Tulsa became home to a vibrant 35-square block neighborhood of Black Americans called Greenwood, also known as Black Wall Street. Greenwood was an economic haven for African Americans, but this community was shattered between May 31 and June 1, 1921, when a white mob attacked the district in a horrific event known as the Tulsa race massacre.
Following the Civil War, waves of African Americans left the South to relocate to other parts of the United States. In 1889 Congress made lands available in Oklahoma for settlement, and many Black people saw this as a major opportunity. One of the main architects in securing land for Black citizens in Oklahoma was O.W. Gurley.