The HISTORY Channel Greenlights Documentary ‘Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre

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(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

THE HISTORY CHANNEL GREENLIGHTS ‘TULSA BURNING: THE 1921 RACE MASSACRE’ (WORKING TITLE) TO AIR TO COINCIDE WITH THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE TRAGIC EVENTS

TWO-HOUR DOCUMENTARY TO BE EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY
NBA SUPER STAR RUSSELL WESTBROOK AND DIRECTED BY EMMY-AWARD WINNING STANLEY NELSON AND EMMY NOMINATED MARCO WILLIAMS

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 The HISTORY® Channel announces the greenlight of the two-hour documentary “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” (working title) from Peabody and Emmy-Award winner Stanley Nelson and Peabody and duPont-Award winner Marco Williams, NBA super star and philanthropist Russell Westbrook, Donnell Beverly (President of Russell Westbrook Enterprises), Blackfin (an eOne company) and Firelight Films. Directed by Nelson (“Freedom Riders”) and Marco Williams (Two Towns of Jasper) and executive produced by Westbrook, the project is slated to air this spring on The HISTORY® Channel timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, one of the worst acts of racist violence in American history.

The HISTORY® Channel will also join the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, Endeavor, RedFlight Innovation and Values Partnerships to create an educational and experiential campaign focused on the history and legacy of Tulsa’s Black Wall street.  It will provide historical context while encouraging young people nationwide to pursue avenues of innovation and entrepreneurship.  The initiative will communicate the importance of investing in Black communities, with an emphasis on youth – connecting the docuseries to the need for progress and development now.

“The Tulsa Race Massacre was not something I was taught about in school or in any of my history books, said Westbrook. “It was only after spending 11 years in Oklahoma that I learned of this deeply troubling and heartbreaking event. This is one of many overlooked stories of African Americans in this country that deserves to be told. These are the stories we must honor and amplify so we can learn from the past and create a better future.”

“The horrific story of the burning of Black Wall Street has long haunted me,” said Nelson. “While I was able to touch on the Tulsa Race Massacre in a short segment in an earlier film, I knew this story needed a much deeper treatment. I’m grateful to be working on this film with such wonderful partners – Marco Williams with whom I have collaborated with on Tell Them We Are Rising, Russell Westbrook, Blackfin and The HISTORY Channel. Together we are aiming to restore Tulsa, Oklahoma and the fateful events surrounding the 1921 massacre of its Black residents to their rightful place in American history.”

“The HISTORY Channel is committed to educating our audience about the past, its impact on the present and its role in shaping the future,” said Eli Lehrer, Executive Vice President and Head of Programming for The HISTORY Channel. “Nearly 100 years later, the emotions from the Tulsa Race Massacre are still embedded in the fabric of our society and this poignant piece of our history is sadly relevant now more than ever, as racially charged events unfold before us during our present history. I am honored to partner with Russell, Stanley and Marco to tell this harrowing story with an authenticity and dignity only they can bring.”

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“Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” (working title) will take an in-depth, sobering look at the events of a century ago and how the impact is still being felt today. The documentary will focus 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. It will also incorporate rare archival footage and imagery from the time, as well as weave in present-day stories and interviews from historians from organizations including the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum, the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, and the Historic Vernon AME Church, among others. 

“Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” (working title) is produced for The HISTORY® Channel by Blackfin (an eOne Company) and Firelight Films. Nelson is set to direct along with Marco Williams. Westbrook is executive producer. Geno McDermott is executive producer for Blackfin. Nelson is executive producer for Firelight Films. Eli Lehrer and Jen Wagman are executive producers for The HISTORY® Channel.

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