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Published 10/22/2019 | Reading Time 2 min 0 sec
By Nehemiah D. Frank, founding publisher and editor in chief
The Watchmen brought to life the 1921 Tulsa race massacre in its premiere episode, “It’s Summer, and We’re Running Out of Ice,” sending the social media world into a complete frenzy.
Most Americans remain unaware that 300 plus Black Americans were massacred and buried in mass graves around this American city, while the assailants, a white mob, looted and burned their homes and businesses to the ground in the early part of the twentieth century in a midwestern all-black town.
Now an HBO TV series is changing that narrative, educating America about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
The show’s leading star, Regina King, took to Twitter, highlighting that America’s schools haven’t done a great job in educating its students about the darkest atrocities that America bestowed upon its Black citizens:
“Seeing so many tweets that #Watchmen was the first time they heard about Black Wall Street and had no idea that our opening depicted the Tulsa Massacre which had not been taught in US history classes made me want to post this post from The Post,” she twitted.
The entertainment and media world definitely has an obligation to inform America when government-funded institutions, such as publicly funded schools, drop the ball on the need for spreading factual knowledge about American history.
Black Americans, however, understand that the White created Christian America nation they dwell within would rather keep its dirty little secrets deeply hidden beneath the aging and soiling rug for as long as possible.
After all, no one wants to broadcast their imperfections.
Needless to say, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was a real-lived atrocity for this community and is one of the many scars the country is forced to reckon as it approaches the 100-year mark since this horrifying disaster on Black American lives.
The local and national government never came to the aid of these Black American citizens, who lived in Tulsa and whose husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons defended the nation during World War I.
But there’s another reason why America didn’t teach its students about this Black community that was obliterated by racial hatred.
White America had no desire to teach its children that Black Americans were exceptional in their yesteryears and continue to be today despite the endless obstacles placed before them during the failed Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras.
The Greenwood District, before the massacre, was the wealthiest Black community in all of the African diaspora. The town boasted 36 square blocks of Black economic prosperity.
Former slaves and their descendants managed to build this Black mecca of an ecosystem nicknamed the Black Wall Street, and these Black self-determined people did so without boots and bootstraps — a community that possessed its own successful school system that produced their community’s doctors, lawyers, educators, business people, pilots, and the list goes on.
The community destroyed in HBO’s Watchmen was based on fact; it actually existed. Now thanks to filmdom, more people are discovering the black excellence of the Black Wall Street.
Nehemiah D. Frank is the founding publisher and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times. He is a graduate of Harold Washington College and Oklahoma State University. His work is featured in TIME Magazine, Education Post, Tulsa People, Citizens Ed, Tulsa World, etc. He is featured in The New York Times, NBC NEWS (print edition), Los Angeles Times, The 74, etc. Frank was also featured in the 2019 documentary “American Heretics,” on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, TEDx Talk, The Great Oklahoma Swindle, etc. Frank is a former school teacher and assistant principal and now spends his time advocating for parents and students in BIPOC communities. He is a founding delegate for the National Parents Union and serves on the Reimagining School Safety and Membership Committees.