PBS to release documentary on Tulsa Race Massacre

'We hope to examine the true history of race relations in America.'

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A new PBS documentary is set to examine the Tulsa Race Massacre, known as the deadliest incident of racial violence in American history.

Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten will premiere during the 100th anniversary of the violent uprising, on Monday, May 31 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org and the PBS Video app.

The race riots erupted on May 31 and June 1 in 1921, when a white mob killed an estimated 300 people and wounded 800 while burning 30 blocks of Black-owned businesses and homes and neighborhood churches in the Greenwood neighborhood, also known as “ Black Wall Street.” Planes were even used to drop projectiles on the area, burning it to the ground, theGRIO reported.

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According to the press release, in Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten, The Washington Post reporter DeNeen L. Brown interviews descendants of Greenwood residents and business owners and today’s community activists. She asks them about the city’s 2018 decision to search for mass graves from 1921, community demands for reparations, and today’s efforts to revive the Black district of Greenwood through education, technology, business development, and more.

“Last year, teams of archaeologists and forensic anthropologists found a mass grave in the city-owned cemetery, which may be connected to the massacre,” said Brown. “This spring, the City of Tulsa plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre, as descendants of survivors demand reparations for what was lost and protest against current oppression and racism.”

“The Tulsa Race Massacre is an atrocity that is often overlooked in our history,” said Lesley Norman, executive producer for WNET. “With this documentary, we hope to examine the true history of race relations in America while paying respect to the lives lost and celebrating those fighting towards a better future for Black Tulsa residents and for African Americans across the country.”

Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten also chronicles present-day public efforts to memorialize the Tulsa Race Massacre and other racial violence around the country, and how Black and white communities view such efforts. The documentary includes interviews with civil rights activists, lawyers and Black community leaders including Greg Robinson II, Kristi Williams and Regina Goodwin, Oklahoma State Representative – Tulsa House District 73. In addition, Eric Stover, founder of the Human Rights Center at University of California, Berkeley School of Law, speaks with Tulsa natives and surveys the current excavation and search for mass graves.

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“The film’s power is in hearing the voices and memories of those whose very existence was redefined by this massacre,” said Eugenia Harvey, executive producer for Chasing the Dream. “The unflinching resilience of north Tulsa’s descendants and residents gives inspiration to all Americans seeking truth in our nation’s history.”

Produced and directed by Jonathan Silvers, Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten is a production of Saybrook Productions Ltd. in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC. 

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