In the early half of 1938, a group of industrious North Tulsa black businessmen, led by Mr. E. W. Clarke, met for the purpose of organizing an effective medium of business, civic, and social expression. In this group wereJ. T. A West, Amos T. Hall, F. Melvin Payne, E. L. Goodwin, M.M. Mann, J. Hughes, B. A. Waynes, Thomas R. Gentry, Robert Fairchild and Rev. J.N. Wallace.
Hence, in June 1938, the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce (GCOC) was organized. The leaders of this movement voted unanimously to elect E. W. Clarke as their first president.
The Greenwood Chamber, as an organization, evolved after the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, and has survived the best and worst of economic times. During segregation in the 1930s and 1940s, Greenwood (the location of the Chamber of Commerce) was known as "Black Wall Street." A directory of the Black businesses from the era listed more than 240 entrepreneurs.
The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and the programmatic entities created by the Chamber were evolved out of a need to address social, economic, and community issues relative to poverty and the development of a proactive curative approach. The Chamber has either created programs and projects designed to address poverty issues, or served as the initiator and advocate for the creation of programs to address poverty related problems.
The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce was established to:
Direct our efforts in activities that will have a positive impact on economic, political, and social issues that affect the quality of life for our members and the community.
Identify those issues and areas in the community where our resources, talents, and skills can make a difference.
Promote the development, growth and expansion of businesses within the community. Address issues and develop solutions that will further minority-owned small businesses, and guarantee their success. Provide networking and source information to minority-owned and small businesses.
Act as an information resource/referral center for the community which will enable better use of minority-businesses and existing agencies, programs and services presently serving the communty.
Heighten community awareness of adverse conditions faced by minorities and the underprivileged.
Provide an effective means to develop the leadership and entrepreneurial skills in our youth.
The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce has used a Community Development Corporation (CDC) component as a means of enhancing the seventy-nine (79) year old organization's ability to develop a broad-based, diversified commitment to viable and visible change in the most economically distressed area of Tulsa County. The Chamber has also created and/or enhanced programs to meet and project the Chamber's dynamic interest in public affairs, especially those concerned with promoting businesses, human welfare, and eliminating second-class citizenship. The Chamber is certified by the Better Business Bureau.