Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook plans to executive produce a television series about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Westbrook has partnered with Blackfin, the unscripted TV producer behind Investigation Discovery’s “I Am Homicide” and History Channel’s “Brothers in Arms,” on a documentary series titled “Terror in Tulsa: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street.”
The docuseries will be directed and produced by three-time Primetime Emmy Award winner Stanley Nelson (“Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool”). Besides the “Terror in Tulsa” project for Blackfin and Westbrook, Nelson is also set to direct the feature documentary “Attica,” about the 1971 prison rebellion in upstate New York, for Showtime, according to the trade publication.
The Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the worst episodes of racial violence in United States history. Between May 31 and June 1, 1921, mobs of white residents attacked, set aflame and ultimately destroyed the Greenwood District, which was at that time one of the wealthiest black communities in the country, earning it the name “Black Wall Street.”
The deadly tragedy was covered up for decades and omitted from history books even in Oklahoma.
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Westbrook, a longtime star for the Oklahoma City Thunder and member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, wrote in a Twitter statement that he first learned of the destruction of Black Wall Street during his 11 seasons with the Thunder, which exposed him 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. 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,” Westbrook said in his statement.
As the event’s 2021 centennial approaches, several film and television projects are telling the story, which is still timely in the midst of national protests about racial injustice following the May 25 death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd while in police custody.
The opening scenes of HBO’s 2019 acclaimed limited series “Watchmen” depicted the Tulsa Race Massacre, introducing many people to the horrific event for the first time.
Cineflix Productions announced last week that it has attached award-winning filmmaker and writer Dream Hampton (“Surviving R. Kelly”) as executive producer and director of a new limited documentary series based on the Tulsa Race Massacre. The working title for the project is “Black Wall Street,” according to a news release.
And Westbrook isn’t the only NBA star working on a Tulsa Race Massacre project. SpringHill Entertainment, the production company founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, also is planning to produce a documentary about Tulsa’s Black Wall Street. Salima Koroma, who directed the 2016 documentary “Bad Rap” about Asian American rappers, including Awkwafina, will direct and executive produce the project.