Students create website for Black Wall Street destroyed by white mob in Tulsa massacre

Hundreds of blacks were killed or injured by a white mob during the Tulsa Massacre in 1921. About 200 Black Wall Street businesses were also destroyed during the two-day rampage.

Today, 100 years later, Black Wall Street’s legacy continues digitally, thanks to tech industry veteran and Tulsa native Mikeal Vaughn and his students at the Urban Coders Guild, who teaches STEM skills to children in underserved communities.

“It was one of those crazy ideas that came to you at 2 a.m.,” Vaughn told CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca. “There was a whole community of businesses that existed, so the idea is that if these businesses existed in 2021, they would most likely have a website. They would most likely have a mobile app. And we teach kids to create. websites. and we’re teaching kids to build mobile apps. So it made sense that we did. “

They created, a collection of web pages for companies such as the Dreamland Theater, the Alexander Hotel, and the Red Wing Cafe, famous at the time for its “inflated electric piano.”

Students receive a history lesson in addition to a computer lesson, Vaughn said.

“My kids are learning web technologies, mobile technologies, but we are working in partnership with Tulsa Community College,” he said. “They do the research, and then there was another group of people from Tulsa Community College who were doing graphic design and logos. And so, this is a collaborative effort, very much in the spirit of Greenwood and very much in the spirit of Black Wall Street. “

Brother and sister Isaac and Raven Arterberry are two of the 40 students of the Urban Coders Guild. Isaac searched for the Vernon AME Church, the only building that survived the massacre.

When asked what it was like to create something digitally but also to see it physically, Isaac said, “I think it’s interesting that we can make it more permanent in a way because physically. , it could be destroyed and all that. But when you make it digital, it lasts forever, which I think is really cool. “

Brenda Nails-Alford, a descendant of several massacre survivors, said she appreciates the work of students like the Arterberrys.

“That says a lot about the legacy that makes Black Wall Street, and you will all continue that legacy,” she told them.

The project connects students to the past that many people don’t talk about.

“It connects them to a past of course, but we also want to focus on connecting them to a future that they maybe didn’t even imagine, a future working in technology, maybe as an encoder,” Vaughn said.

He said he hopes they are the next chapter on Black Wall Street.

So far, there are only a handful of businesses in the directory, but they plan to add more in the coming months.

About Madeline Powers

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