During the years between 1900 to 1930, we entered what historian Juliette Walker called the “Golden age of Black business” — the number Black-owned businesses doubled from 20,000 in 1900 and 40,000 in 1914.
Segregation forced Black customers to spend their money at Black-owned stores. The combination of racism from banks, White business owners, and police forced us to circulate the Black dollar amongst ourselves.
Jealousy and massacre
The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, otherwise known as “Black Wall Street,” is a shining example of Black success and the subsequent demolition caused by racism.
Black Wall Street was a thriving economy where Blacks created their businesses and services, including several grocery stores, two newspapers, two movie theaters, nightclubs, and numerous churches. The residents selected their leaders and raised capital there to support economic growth.
On May 31 and June 1, 1921, mobs of White residents attacked Black residents and businesses of Black Wall Street. As Scott Pelley reports on a recent 60 Minutes episode, “Oil made Greenwood rich, but jealousy made it suffer.
In 1921, a White mob, with incendiary rage, burned Greenwood to ash. Even memories were murdered when the dead were dropped into unmarked graves.”
150 to 300 killed
The mob, accompanied by the police, stirred up chaos on the ground and even dropping bombs from aircraft over the city. Between 150 to 300 people were murdered, including women and children. Ten thousand were now homeless, and 6,000 of them were herded into internment camps only to be released weeks later.
The Black Wall Street Massacre has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.”
Ninety-nine years later, amid the murders of unarmed Black men and structural inequality, Black businesses receive lower loan amounts and are forced to leverage our cash. One way to separate ourselves from untrustworthy institutions is to circulate permission less sovereign money in our community.
Taking power back
If we choose to participate, the freedom of bitcoin can create a perfect storm of innovation for the Black community.
The next wave of innovation will be driven mainly by the activity of Black entrepreneurs and consumers online.
Diverse entrepreneurs and those creating solutions for different audiences are solving problems for the fastest growing demographic segments in the U.S., provide opportunities for disproportionate returns and represent the markets of the future:
Black women are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S.
HBCUs produce 27% of Black students with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields
50% of the Black population is millennial or younger
Black buying power is $1.2 trillion annually
By the year 2044, people of color will become the majority in the U.S., making up over half of the U.S. population
Black purchasing power and representation in the labor market will continue to rise, yet still technologically and financially underserved. Only 1% of venture capital funding goes into Blackled startups.
As the economy begins to change and implement cryptocurrency, there will be more opportunities to build wealth for future generations.
Harry Alford III is the co-founder of humble ventures, a venture development firm accelerating tech startups in partnership with large organizations and investors. He is the son of National Black Chamber of Commerce’s founders Kay DeBow and Harry C. Alford.