Communities sometimes suffer events that result in devastation to the physical and spatial elements. Additionally, depending on the event, the result is devastation to the lives and the livelihood of the community that threatens its survival and potentially obstructs the path to rebuilding and regeneration.

Purpose: To guide students in developing a connection to the people and places of Tulsa’s Greenwood/ Black Wall Street; to explore the community dynamics that define its richness and vitality pre and post 1921 and to explore ways of building an effective response in caring for the community.

Background – The events of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre remain as a powerful imprint on Tulsa’s Greenwood. However, these events, although impactful, are not what solely define the community’s depth, its richness, and the vitality of its people committed to moving forward its future.

Lesson/ Learning Activities:

Guide students in exploring/ creating a list of entrepreneurs connected to Tulsa’s Greenwood past and present.

  • Mabel B. Little
  • Mary E. Jones Parrish
  • Madame CJ Walker
  • O W & Emma (Wells) Gurley
  • JB & Augusta Stradford
  • The Goodwin Family

*Guide students in additional research to add names of current day community leaders. One possibility is to guide students to choose a name from the Ellis Walker Woods Memorial Site.

Students choose from the generated list. Develop a mini profile to identify important details of that person and their contributions to the community (i.e. how does the person and/or the business(s) add to the vitality of the community?)

What is the person’s connection to Tulsa/Tulsa’s Greenwood?

Create a “Quick Facts” sheet to capture important facts about the person and/or leadership and business contributions. (Also, consider using the Greenwood Knowledge Cards/Bookmark tool to capture quick facts)

Suggested Text(s) to accompany lesson activities: (select from book list based on age/ audience)

Suggested for Younger Audience/ Learners

  • Opal’s Greenwood Oasis – (Hylton, N., Lansana, Q.)
  • Leaders Like Us: OW Gurley – (Miller, J.P)

Suggested for H.S. – Adult Audience/ Learners

  • Black Wall Street 100 (Johnson, H. – see Appendix D Curriculum Guide – grades 8-12+)
  • Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District (Johnson, H)

Also see online resource Mapping Greenwood: A Virtual Tour of the Events of the Tulsa Race Massacre and Current Sites of Commemoration

Extending beyond the lesson: Take Action

Consider a community-based project to connect students to a “healing the community” effort.

Possible Projects

Pair to Care – Older (possibly M.S. or H.S.) pair with younger learners for a mini day of caring. Time consists of reading (choose an appropriate book), writing a note (to a Senior adult) and/or creating a mini care package to deliver to persons in need (collab w/organizations that serve homeless communities, Adult Senior living, or children in foster-care)

Create a “living memorial” to represent Survivors, Pioneers, and Heroes connected to Tulsa’s Greenwood/ Black Wall Street. This may consist of original student-created artwork, poetry, song lyrics, posters, and other ways to celebrate the Spirit of Greenwood connected to the triumph and rebuilding of Tulsa’s Greenwood/ Black Wall Street. (The goal is to create a visual representation of Greenwood as a vibrant, thriving community of people.)

Create a business catalog or directory highlighting current business listings.

Social Entrepreneurship – Students develop a project or micro-community business to generate revenue. Consequently, funds are redistributed outward to a specific community-based need. Projects can be independent or paired/ group-based.

To build background knowledge

  • Students can study the economy of their current community (EX: Connect to a small business owner in the community. Gather tools, ideas, strategies, and mentoring related to building a successful business.)
  • Explore the meaning and impact of business ethics, entrepreneurship + social responsibility
  • Share the story of Jahkil Jackson and Project I Am as a model of youth-based social entrepreneurship in action:

13-year-old Jahkil Jackson is the founder of ProjectIAm, which has donated more than 50,000 “Blessing Bags” to the homeless!

Social entrepreneurship creates social value to address critical social needs (Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, CASE).

Alt def: According to, social entrepreneurship is “the process by which individuals, startups and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues.”)

Terms/ definitions to explore

  • Community
  • Responsibility (social, economical, ethical)
  • Economy/economics
  • Leadership (community-based)