The 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma was the most brutal racial terrorist attack in American history. National Geographic is marking the 100th anniversary of the tragedy with a new documentary that sheds light on the horror.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film, titled Red Summer, will be directed by Dawn Porter, who produced the John Lewis documentary Good Trouble. It is set to air in June.
The film follows Washington Post journalist and native Oklahoman DeNeen Brown who has reported on the search for mass graves in Tulsa and opens a largely unknown chapter of history called “Red Summer,” which is a period between 1917 and 1923 where Black communities were terrorized, the Ku Klux Klan had become powerful and Jim Crow laws bolstered and normalized systemic and institutional racism.
Porter said in a statement, "This story has been a century in the making, but it took DeNeen's powerful call to action for the city of Tulsa and wider American community to fully realize the necessity of unearthing the truth about this massacre,” said Porter in a statement. “As a filmmaker, following the evidence where it leads and giving a voice to those directly affected by the Red Summer's tragic events is an incredibly delicate undertaking. There is so much our society is currently reckoning with, but seeking the truth about the damage wrought by unchecked and unsanctioned mob violence against the Black community, is a starting point to acknowledge these wrongs and make room for healing to take place."
The Tulsa riot began May 31, 1921, in the city’s Greenwood District, home to an area of wealthy and prosperous Black businesses and homes known popularly as “Black Wall Street.” It was destroyed after angry mobs of whites called for the lynching of 19-year-old Dick Rowland after he was wrongly accused of assaulting a white elevator attendant Sarah Page. Soon crowds of whites, waiting for a trigger, set out to destroy not only a Black community, but a symbol of Black prosperity that defied the white social expectations of the time.
During the two days of violence, the Greenwood District was burned to the ground, leaving more than 10,000 homeless and countless others out of work. Despite being outnumbered by whites ten to one, on June 1, the National Guard was called in to disarm the crowds of Blacks and several witnesses reported aerial bombs being dropped on sections of Greenwood.
See the trailer for Red Summer below: