Biographical / Historical
Black Wall Street was a vibrant African American community that was destroyed during a race riot that broke out in 1921. Its businesses were burned to the ground and the residents were displaced. Against the odds, Black Wall Street was reborn and by the 1940s was once again a center for African American life in Tulsa.
Reverend Harold Mose Anderson's film titled Reverend Harold M. Anderson's Black Wall Street documents evidence of this resurgance. Although Anderson was only a year old when the riots occurred, he grew up hearing stories about life in Black Wall Street before the riot. He was both a witness to and participant in the rebuilding and revival of the community. And, he documented the resulting renewal with his 16mm motion picture camera.
Filmed between 1948 and 1952 Reverend Harold M. Anderson's Black Wall Street does just that. A successful businessman, Anderson managed and then owned two neighborhood movie theaters, a skating rink, bowling alley, and shopping strip, among other enterprises. He also brought the Golden Gloves boxing tournament to the area, making it accessible to African American fans. Anderson felt that it was critical that Black Wall Street sustain independent African American business, ensuring resident dollars would stay in the community and guarantee its vibrancy.
Almost lost in a devastating house fire, Reverend Anderson's film recognizes the efforts and successes of the community. With his camera he documented many of Black Wall Street's businesses including barber shops, bakers, taxi companies, jewelers, and other stores. He also captured its citizens in church, at school, participating in parades, and walking around the area. The film includes footage Richard and Pat Nixon as they campaigned in Black Wall Street, the first vice-presidential candidate to visit the African American neighborhood.