Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook will produce a documentary series on the 1921 race massacre that transpired in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
According to Variety, Westbrook is teaming up with documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson and producer Blackfin on the series titled “Terror In Tulsa: The Rise And Fall of Black Wall Street.” The docuseries will not only look at the events that took place in 1921, but it will also explore the social and economic impact that it still holds until this day.
Westbrook spent the first 11 years of his career with Oklahoma City, approximately 100 miles from where one of the greatest tragedies in the U.S.’s history took place. As June 1, 2021 approaches, the 100-year anniversary of the travesty, Westbrook believes that this is the story that needs to be told in order for the country to progress.
Spending 11 years in Oklahoma opened my eyes to the rich and sordid history of the state. When I learned about the heartbreaking events that happened in Tulsa nearly 100 years ago, I knew this was a story I wanted to tell. It’s upsetting that the atrocities that transpired then are still so relevant today. It’s important we uncover the buried stories of African Americans in this country. We must amplify them now more than ever if we want to create change moving forward.
While I encourage you to watch this docuseries when it comes out, I would also highly encourage you to pick up a book on the topic or even visit the official historical website of the tragedy as soon as you possibly can.
To understand Black Americans’ frustrations and distrust of the government and law enforcement today, you must know all of the history. To even call this event a “massacre” is a disservice to the victims, and it was definitely not a “race riot.” This was a terrorist attack on Americans in the name of white supremacy. Not only were hundreds of Black Americans killed, but thousands were left homeless and hundreds of businesses were destroyed and looted. The attack on the Greenwood District, also known as “Black Wall Street” — the wealthiest black community in the U.S. at the time — was a successful attempt at ensuring the equality gap would stay as wide as it possibly could by stripping away from the Black citizens of Tulsa the only thing this country recognizes: financial freedom.
Despite the fact that there’s insurmountable evidence that the city of Tulsa, including law enforcement, conspired with white citizens to destroy 35 city blocks of the district, no amount of reparations, not even insurance money, was given to the victims to rebuild their lives. And if it weren’t for the forming of the official Race Riot Commission in 2001, their stories wouldn’t even be told. It took 80 years and the commission to determine that the 36 people reported dead from the riot was only about a tenth of the 300 people historians believe died that day. It will be nearly 100 years from 1921 that the events of that day will finally be taught in Oklahoma school curriculum. It will also surely be much longer than 100 years that the victims of the massacre, and their descendants, will receive any form of justice or reparations.
Unequivocally, it’s critical that these stories are now being told, and will continue to be told, so we are not doomed to repeat ourselves. While you look at what’s going on today with racial tension in America, know this is far from the first time that it’s happened, nor was it unprompted, and there was never a time in American history in which civil unrest wasn’t a single injustice away.