June 22, 2024

Black Entrepreneur History

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Simon E. Berry – Founder of Tulsa’s Only Black-Owned Transit System In Black Wall Street

Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived a tall, slender African American man named Simon Berry who founded the first Black-owned mega transit system in Tulsa, Oklahoma and even in the USA, which served the Greenwood District also known as Black Wall Street.

Simon Berry was born in a place called Granada, Mississippi on July 6, 1890, son of Simon E. Berry Sr.

He had a wife and four year old child in 1917 the day he registered for the draft. He was married in 1915 on December 19th in Tulsa. Her name was Alma Pitman. He was 24 years of age, and she was 22, according to his marriage records in Oklahoma.

Simon E. Berry Mega Transit System

They lived on 26 N. Cheyenne Street in Tulsa Oklahoma. At the time of his WW1 Draft registration, he had already founded his own Taxi service in the district.

He owned his own home, valued at $3500 and not only did he own and operate a taxi service but he launched and managed Tulsa’s Bus Line called Berry Bus Line Company Inc. in response to Black people being oppressed by not being able to utilize transportation services already set up in the city due to segregation. Black people were forbidden to take taxis or the bus for transport, so he formed his own for the Black community of Tulsa in the Greenwood District known as Black Wall Street.

His wife served as the treasury secretary at Berry Bus Line Company Inc which was located at 801 E. Independence[1]. At this time, he’d moved from N. Cheyenne Street to 802 N. Kenosha Avenue.

Simon E. Berry also founded and owned a Garage and Service Station at 621 E. Archer as he was not only an entrepreneur but a skilled mechanic, teaching many others the skill as well. The same people he taught worked for him. Each of his businesses tied to one another making him the founder of the large transportation system dedicated to transporting African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma when there was no transportation system willing to transport the race. Berry was even a pilot, founding his own charter plane service called Berry’s Airplane Garage for businessmen who invested in the wealth of the earth – oil. Berry’s Airplane Garage was possibly the first and only Black-owned airplane service in the United States of America.

Simon E. Berry flourished and caused Black Wall Street to flourish as well through his mega transportation services, being responsible for a large percentage of jobs in the district.

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Simon E. Berry’s Death

Not much is know about Simon E. Berry’s death or what definitively came of him after the burning and lynchings of Black Wall Street (Greenwood) by a white mob. No matter what, Berry is known for his wonderful contributions to Black Wall Street and America.


[1]Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011