In Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten, viewers will learn of the events that inspired an enraged mob of white supremacists to murder 300 people, wound 800, and burn down 30 blocks of churches, Black-owned businesses, and homes in the predominately Black Greenwood neighborhood. Airplanes circled and bombed the bustling town, widely known as “Black Wall Street,” and reduced it to ash and blood on May 31, 1921, in a matter of 24 hours.
The massacre’s aftermath left behind a warzone of destruction for the survivors to rummage through, while the dead were discretely thrown in mass graves across Tulsa. Over time, the story was mostly hidden from history books, until recently.
DeNeen L. Brown, a Washington Post journalist involved in the documentary, interviewed Greenwood survivors and local activists about the massacre, reparations, and any redemption plans for their city.
“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.”
Lesley Norman, the executive producer for WNET, added: “The Tulsa Race Massacre is an atrocity that is often overlooked in our history. 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 features interviews from civil rights activists, lawyers, and prominent Black community leaders. Additionally, it investigates how both Black and White communities observe the deadly massacre and other race-related atrocities across the country.
Catch Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten Monday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.