NBA star Russell Westbrook has stepped into the arena of films by announcing that he is producing a series centered around the 1921 Tulsa race riots.
On Tuesday (Jun 9), the Houston Rockets’ guard announced via Variety that he was executive producing the series, titled “Terror In Tulsa: The Rise And Fall Of Black Wall Street” in collaboration with documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson and the production company Blackfin.
“I am so very honored to partner with Russell Westbrook and Blackfin to direct ‘Terror In Tulsa.’ There is no story more poignant or relevant to the racially charged events unfolding before us today, the frustration, the outrage, the outcry for justice in the wake of the George Floyd killing,” Nelson said in a statement. “The story of Tulsa reveals a significant chapter in the American experience leading up to this moment. It is a story that needs to be treated with dignity, grounded in cultural authenticity, and portrayed with historical accuracy in order to truly understand the impact it has had on our nation. From the cover-ups of the massacre in 1921 to the uncovering of the mass graves left in its wake, the story of Tulsa is the harsh example of not only the history of violence against black people in America, but also the great American sin of burying it out of sight, and pretending that it never happened. For many, it is hard to believe such an atrocity occurred. For others, these atrocities are simply part of the American journey.”
The 1921 incident, is considered one of the nation’s worst incidents of racial violence, after a white mob attacked the predominantly black Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, looting and burning homes and businesses. Although at the time, the reported death total was 36, a 2001 Oklahoma commission revealed that the official death toll was more likely at a total of between 100-300 people killed.
Russell Westbrook, who played 11 years with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being traded to the Rockets in July 2019, reflected on his time in the state via Twitter, writing that living “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,” Westbrook wrote. “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.”