The 1921 Tulsa Oklahoma race riots were maybe the most deadliest and devastating in American history. Taking place over an 18 hour period, between May 31 and June 1, 1921, the riots started when a group of angry whites attacked blacks in the Greenwood district, known as “The Black Wall Street,” which was actually the wealthiest black community in the entire United States at the time.
After the devastation ended, the entire Greenwood neighborhood had been burned to the ground, including two black hospitals, 35 city blocks destroyed, over 1200 homes lost, 10,000 black people homeless, over 6000 black people arrested by the police, and the numbers of those who lost their lives range anywhere from 55 to over 300. However no official statistics of those killed were taken.
But even today, knowledge of the riots is practically unknown to most people, and is rarely talked about. It is another example of African-American history that has been lost, forgotten or betrayed – an ugly side of American history too conveniently swept under the rug.
But that may start to change, as, previously announced, Octavia Spencer will star in a two-night event mini-series, “Tulsa” (working title), which is currently in development at the OWN network. “Tulsa” will tell the story of the largest race riot in U.S. history in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The mini-series will center on Mattie Clay (Spencer), a journalist from Tulsa, who moved to Chicago with the hopes of getting off the society pages and away from racism. Mattie’s journey eventually brings her back home to Tulsa where she must face the demons of her past and decide where her future lies.
Further details as to who will be writing, directing and producing the project, along with possible broadcast dates, have yet to be announced, but certainly will come soon enough.