Numerous evidence highlight the hypocrisy associated with racism, but the story of Sarah Rector tops the list. History remembers her as the "Richest Colored Girl in the world" or the "millionaire girl a member of the race."
Rector was a multi-millionaire oil baron at just 12 years old. Her wealth exposed many white people's pietism after she was so rich that the legislature in Oklahoma legally accepted her into the white community and declared her to a white person.
Born as the daughter of freedmen in 1902, Sarah Rector rose from humble beginnings to reportedly become the wealthiest black girl in America.
Before her wealth and fame, Rector and her family were African American members of the Muscogee Creek Nation. People from these parts lived in modest cabins in the predominantly black town of Taft, Oklahoma, which, at the time, was considered Indian Territory.
Following the Civil War, Rector's parents, formerly enslaved by Creek Tribe members, were entitled to land allotments under the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887.
Lands granted to former slaves were usually rocky and infertile, and the slave masters thought the same of Rector's allotment, but they were wrong. The land allocated to Rector was in the middle of the Glenn Pool oil field and was initially valued at $556.50.
Strapped for cash, Rector's father leased his daughter's parcel to a major oil company in February 1911 to help him pay the $30 annual property tax.
Two years later, Rector's fortune took a significant turn when independent oil driller B.B. Jones produced a "gusher" on her land that brought in 2,500 barrels or 105,000 gallons per day.
According to Tonya Bolden, author of Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America (Harry N. Abrams; $21.95); Rector began earning more than $300 a day in the year 1913. This is equal to $7,000 – $8,000 at today’s exchange rate. In October 1913, her wealth was estimated at $11,567.
By the time she turned 18, Rector was worth an estimated $1 million or about $11 million today. She further owned stocks and bonds, a boarding house, a bakery and restaurant in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and 2,000 acres of land.
She eventually left Tuskegee with her family and moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she bought a grand home that still stands today.
"While in Kansas City, the Rectors eventually moved into a home that was a far cry from that weather-whipped two-room cabin in which Sarah began life. This home-place was a stately stone house. It became known as the Rector Mansion," Bolden told the New York Amsterdam News.
In 1922, she married Kenneth Campbell, the second African American to own an auto dealership. The couple had three sons and was recognized as local royalty, driving expensive cars and entertaining elites like Joe Louis, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie at their home. They divorced in 1930, and Rector remarried in 1934.
Sadly, Rector lost most of her wealth during The Great Depression. She died at age 65 on July 22, 1967. At the time of her death, she only had some active oil wells and real estate holdings.
The big question on the lips of many critics remains "what happened to Rector's wealth and real estate, was it transferred to the whites after she was declared white?"
What are your thoughts?
Credit: History.com, Blackenterprise.com