This rare footage shows what life was like in all-Black towns during the 1920s.
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In US news and current events today, this rare footage shows life in all-Black communities in the 1920s during an era of fierce racial tension.
Reverend Solomon Sir Jones was the son of former slaves. He moved to Oklahoma in 1889 and became an influential Baptist minister. Jones was also an amateur filmmaker in the early days of moviemaking
Over the course of 4 years, he filmed 355 minutes of footage in more than 50 all-Black communities across Oklahoma. He also documenting his trips to other states and abroad. Jones films capture vibrant Black communities thriving at a time when racist violence & segregation were prevalent in many areas nationwide.
Oklahoma came to have the greatest number of all-Black communities in the 60+ years following the Civil War. In these towns, Black Americans started their own businesses, many Black doctors, lawyers, & families thrived.
Some white Oklahomans tried to block or slow the growth all-Black towns by imposing ‘oaths’ that limited hiring Black laborers or refusing to rent or sell land to a Black person. In 1921, the ‘Black Wall Street’ neighborhood of Tulsa was decimated during an incident of white mob violence. Dozens of Black residents were killed & hundreds more injured in what became known as the Tulsa Massacre.
For decades, the incident was barely taught, if at all, in schools. All-Black communities in the state entered a period of decline during the Great Depression.
Today, Jones’ footage is considered some of the best documentation of what life was like in Black communities at the time. The films showcase unique, culturally rich towns full of communities that supported one another despite an often racist society around them.
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