WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 17: Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards reacts prior to playing against the Denver Nuggets at Capital One Arena on February 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
NBA player Russell Westbook is contributing to the continued legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre by helping to produce a new documentary that will air on the History Channel.
A+E Networks announced the broadcast of the two-hour documentary tentatively titled “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre,” which will be executive produced by Westbrook, according to the official press release. The project is scheduled to air in the spring to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, when a throng of enraged white residents decimated a prosperous Black neighborhood over May 31 to June 1, 1921, killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless.
“The Tulsa Race Massacre was not something I was taught about in school or in any of my history books,” the Washington Wizards guard said in the press release. “It was only after spending 11 years in Oklahoma that I learned of this deeply troubling and heartbreaking event.”
“This is one of many overlooked stories of African Americans in this country that deserves to be told,” he added. “These are the stories we must honor and amplify so we can learn from the past and create a better future.”
Westbrook also announced the project on Twitter, writing, “Excited to bring this project to life about such a significant event in American history. Coming this spring to @HISTORY.”
The documentary is expected to take an in-depth look at the events by using rare archival footage and imagery from the time period, and incorporating present-day stories and interviews from historians.
A+E also announced that The History Channel will team with the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, “to create an educational and experiential campaign” dedicated to the “history and legacy” of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street. The initiative aims to offer historical context while inspiring young people across the country to engage in innovative and entrepreneurial activities. The channel said it intends to convey to the youth the value of investing in Black communities by “connecting the docuseries to the need for progress and development now.”
“The History Channel is committed to educating our audience about the past, its impact on the present, and its role in shaping the future,” said Eli Lehrer, executive vice president and head of programming for the History Channel. “Nearly 100 years later, the emotions from the Tulsa Race Massacre are still embedded in the fabric of our society and this poignant piece of our history is sadly relevant now more than ever, as racially charged events unfold before us during our present history.”
Another NBA star is also bringing the story of Black Wall Street to the screen, with “Dreamland: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street,” produced by LeBron James’ SpringHill Company and CNN Films.
James’ documentary will cover the events that led up to the violent massacre. The Dreamland documentary plans to use a combination of archival media, contemporary interviews and original letters and diary entries, along with footage of a near-century search for physical evidence of massacre, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
SpringHill and CNN Films anticipate the documentary to be finished in early 2021.
Yet another project on the infamous event, “Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten,” is scheduled to air on PBS stations on May 31.