99 years ago, the Tulsa Race Massacre saw white residents in Tulsa, Oklahoma attack Greenwood and Black Wall Street, the wealthiest Black community in America at the time. Called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history,” the attack was not only made on the ground but by air as well.
On the anniversary of the massacre, a new documentary series has been announced from Cineflix Productions and Surviving R. Kelly producer dream hampton. She will direct the series and executive procue it.
“Black people from Tulsa have refused to let the Greenwood District Massacre be erased from history. I’m so inspired by their persistence to lift up the stories of what North Tulsa was before the massacre,” said Hampton in a statement. “As the centennial approaches they are still searching for a mass grave they believe contains the bodies of the victims of the Black Wall Street Massacre, and they are still demanding reparations. I’m inspired to learn this history from them, and to tell their ongoing story,”
“If the recent tragic stories of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have shown us anything, it’s that there’s still much work to be done,” said J.C. Mills, president and commercial director of Cineflix Productions.
NPR gave a primer of the event in 2018 when they told the story of the last survivor of the riots.
Greenwood may have been a haven for African-Americans, but the state of Oklahoma had strict laws limiting the rights of Black people. Schools, hospitals, trains, stores, restaurants, even public phone booths were segregated and miscegenation was a felony. Lynchings were not uncommon and by 1920, the Ku Klux Klan was reemerging in the state.
When Dick Rowland, a young Black man, was accused of assaulting a young white woman in an elevator in May 1921, things escalated quickly. He was arrested and word spread that white mobs were headed to the courthouse, intending to lynch him.
The mobs were met by a group of armed Black men, many of whom were World War I veterans. After a confrontation, shots were fired, and thus began a day-long assault on Greenwood. In less than 24 hours, the white mobs destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses. They set fire to schools, churches, libraries, and movie theaters, leveling entire city blocks.
Last year, the massacre was depicted in what is presumed to be the first time on major television when it was a major story arc in HBO’s Watchmen.
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