THE HISTORIC GREENWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
HISTORY OF GREENWOOD
Preserving the history of the Historic Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which grew into the most famous and prosperous black urban community in the United States during the early 1900s. Dubbed the “Negro Wall Street” by educator Booker T. Washington, the community had a flourishing population that included both a working class and a middle class of prosperous citizens.
After the Civil War, most of the all-black townships that had been established in the United States were located in Indian and Oklahoma Territories. One of those townships, Greenwood, was created in 1906 by one of Tulsa’s earliest pioneers, O.W. Gurley, who had come from Arkansas to Oklahoma in the 1889 Land Rush.
A black educator and entrepreneur who gained wealth by speculating in land, Gurley purchased forty acres on the northern outskirts of Tulsa, which itself had been incorporated only eight years earlier in 1898. Gurley sold his land to African Americans who soon developed a small community. Tulsa grew rapidly because of the oil boom in the surrounding countryside and by 1910 annexed Greenwood.
The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce is comprised of three entities.
GREENWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
A 1938 quote on the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce from early Board chair, E.W. Clarke, had this to say: “If the Chamber means anything at all, it must stand out as a clearing house for civic betterment. On June 1, 1938, the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce began providing a new playing field for enhancing business and economics in North Tulsa.
GREENWOOD CENTRE LTD
Post Civil Rights triumphs, in the 1970s, under the leadership of American State Bank founder/owner Leroy Thomas, Dr. Milton Goodwin and others, the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce began an effort to preserve tangible assets...the historic buildings, land and businesses in the Greenwood district. By 1983, the Greenwood Centre, LTD , a limited for-profit enterprise was established. Today, GCL leases and manages over 60,000 square feet of prime office and retail space in Tulsa’s IDL.
GREENWOOD COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Dated back to 2004, the ninth revision to the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce’s original Constitution and Bylaws followed with the formation of the Greenwood Community Development Corporation which put brick and mortar to much of the 1938 mission: “In order to form a community of interests wherein the masses may benefit, and desiring to stimulate greater activity and growth in business enterprise operated by citizens in the Tulsa Metropolitan Area.,,," The Chamber's GCDC is most noted for its Greenwood Business Resource Centre which, over the years, which assists African American entrepreneurs from start-up to storefront, and promoting workforce development for Tulsa.