One hundred years ago, in 1921 thirty-five blocks of the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma was a thriving town of black entrepreneurs, businesses, and wealth. The segregated town was famously coined Black Wall Street.
However, on May 30, 1921 when “[a] chance encounter between two teenagers lit the fuse that set Greenwood District alight,” that all tragically changed.
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On May 31st and June 1st, a mob of white people tore down and burned Black Wall Street. They killed hundreds of black people and destroyed millions of dollars of property and left nearly 10,000 blacks homeless. And before whites destroyed the properties, they looted.
They also flew overhead in airplanes, firing rifles and dropping firebombs. They also prevented firefighters from putting out fires.
However, due to the perpetual systemic racism in America, news of the massacre was kept under the lid for decades. And like most Black history in America, many have only learned it from documentaries and movies.
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With the 100th anniversary of the worst act of racism and violence in America that took down Black Wall Street, check out ways to learn about the city and massacre trhough TV and/or film.
For more information on Tulsa, visit https://www.tulsa2021.org/history
The Legacy of Black Wall Street
Where to watch: OWN and discovery+ — premieres June 1st and June 8th at 9 p.m. ET/PT (OWN)
The Legacy of Black Wall Street is a two-party special that tracks the rise of Black Wall Street in Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, up until the 1921 Tulsa race massacre that destroyed the 36-block booming business epicenter. This commemorative documentary shifts the narrative from the massacre itself to amplify the voices of those Black pioneers then who went West to build their American dream.
Where to watch: HBO
While the series wasn’t about Black Wall Street, The Watchmen featured the Tulsa race massacre within their storylines.
In the episode, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” we watch as fighting breaks out in Tulsa, Oklahoma breaks out and O.B. Williams and Ruth Robeson rush to get their son, Will, to safety. They witness violence and destruction on their way to safety.
Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten
Where to watch: PBS — premieres May 31, 2021
Although rarely mentioned in textbooks, there is no question that the Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the most horrific incidents of racial violence in American history. As the country continues to reflect on the shocking murders and arson that took place from May 31-June 1, 1921, and considers more recent incidents of social injustice like the killing of George Floyd last May, a new documentary Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten, directed by Jonathan Silvers, examines this deadly assault on humanity on the 100th anniversary of the crime.
Where to watch: HBO
While the series wasn’t about Black Wall Street, Love Craft Country featured the Tulsa’s race massacre within their storylines.
In episode ‘Rewind 1921,’ with Hippolyta at the helm, Leti, Tic, and Montrose travel to 1921 Tulsa in an effort to save Dee.
Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre
Where to watch: History Channel on Sunday, May 30 at 8PM ET/PT
This documentary takes an in-depth, sobering look at the tragic events of a century ago and focuses on a specific period, from the birth of Black Wall Street, to its catastrophic downfall over the course of two bloody days, and finally the fallout and reconstruction. The documentary also follows the city’s current-day grave excavation efforts at Oaklawn Cemetery where numerous unmarked coffins of victims who were killed and buried during the massacre have been recovered. It will also feature rare archival footage and imagery from the time, coupled with commentary and interviews from numerous historians, city leaders, and activists, including the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum, the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and the Historic Vernon A.M.E. Church, among others.
Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street
Where to watch: CNN and HBO Max– it premieres May 31, 2021 at 8 p.m. EST
Directed and produced by Salima Koroma, the cinematic documentary celebrates the Black cultural renaissance that existed in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, OK, and investigates the 100-year-old race massacre that left an indelible, though hidden stain on American history.
DREAMLAND: The Burning of Black Wall Street, is executive produced by LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Jamal Henderson, and Philip Byron for The SpringHill Company, and Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton for CNN Films.
Black Wall Street Burning
Where to watch: Vimeo
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