Photo of hundreds of people dancing the Electric Slide on a city street in Seattle.

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.

A car blockade blocks off the intersection of 23rd Ave South and South Jackson Street. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Close to 200 Vendors sold their wares at “Honoring Our Black Wall Streets.” (Photo: Susan Fried)
Blake Arms, 8, co-owner of Button Bros, takes a break from selling his products to have some fun. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Artist Shea Black was one of almost 200 businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists who participated in “Honoring Our Black Wall Streets.” (Photo: Susan Fried)
Shea Black stands by one of her most recent paintings. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Some people walk by a display of clothes being sold by African Print Takeover. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Angela Unique (Photo: Susan Fried)
Karlos Dillard poses with “Ward of the State: A Memoir of Foster Care,” a book he wrote sharing his experience growing up in the foster care system in Detroit. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Rodney King (center), owner of King’s Pen LLC, showcases his unique art that commentates on topics such as activism, sports, and rap. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Artist Jerald Butler (Photo: Susan Fried)
Trae Holiday, creative director of King County Equity Now and producer at Converge Media, was one of the hosts for the afternoon. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
A Black community elder pours water from a water bottle after shouting “Aṣẹ!” and the names Black lives that have passed away. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Nu Black Arts West, the oldest African American theatre company in the PNW, performs live on stage. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Gwendolyn Phillips Coats, a member of Nu Black Arts West, tells the story of Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Massacre. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Local Black artist Unapologetically Jason sings the Black National Anthem. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Hundreds of people danced the Electric Slide for 20 minutes. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Young performer and entrepreneur Skye Dior performs before a large crowd. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Nana Ahmed and 2-year-old Jameela enjoy a performance during “Honoring Our Black Wall Streets.” (Photo: Susan Fried)

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. Her early career included weddings, portraits, commercial work — plus shes been The Skanner’s Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washington Daily, the Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.

Featured Image: Hundreds of people danced the Electric Slide for 20 minutes during “Honoring Our Black Wall Streets,” an event held on 23rd Avenue South and South Jackson Street on May 31, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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