Weekend festival in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood celebrates Black Wall Street

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ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Saturday, September 10, 2022
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The festival will showcase that history and also highlight a time when Black neighborhoods in Chicago were more self-sustaining.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A festival in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood Saturday will pay homage to Black Wall Street.

"I want to bring the whole essence of Black Wall Street back to the community," said organizer Carlas Prince Gilbert, who owns Prince Realty Group.

The Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was one of the most prosperous Black communities in the country. It was dubbed the Black Wall Street of America.

However, the neighborhood was destroyed by a mob of white vigilantes during the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921.

RELATED: Tulsa Race Massacre: Story behind Black Wall Street, racist mob that burned it to the ground

"There was over 600 Black-owned business that were very successful," Prince Gilbert said.

She said the festival will showcase that history and also highlight a time when Black neighborhoods in Chicago were more self-sustaining.

Longtime Woodlawn resident, Jeane Clark, recalls when the neighborhood was home to many Black-owned businesses.

"What you do is you take your Black dollar I give it to the store right here. That dollar circulates through the whole Black community. It continues to build wealth," she said.

The festival will feature historians. Prince Gilbert also invited 40 Black business owners to talk about their services.

"Our goal is for the youth to see what is possible for them," she said.

The festival will also be a celebration of Black history and culture.

RELATED: The importance of building Black wealth for future generations: 'You will create millionaires'

Musician Ken Cooper will be playing a collection of Louis Armstrong songs.

"The blues, the jazz, the gospel, all this is us. And if we don't educate you and those kids, it will be gone," he said.

Black Wall Street runs 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday along 61st Street from Vernon to Champlain.

"We have a lot for everyone to come to,but the biggest takeaway is I want people to understand how it important Black Wall Street was to the Black community," Prince Gilbert said.

The festival is free. To register, click here.