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TULSA, Okla. — A groundbreaking album of original material, written and recorded by a collective of Oklahoma hip hop artists to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre – will be released on May 28 by Motown Records/Black Forum in partnership with Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Center® and Woody Guthrie Center®.
The 21-track collection gets to the truth of what happened on May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a white mob descended on the streets of Greenwood — then a prosperous Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street — and burned down the business district, destroying roughly 1,500 homes, killing hundreds and leaving thousands of Black Tulsans homeless. For years, this historic, albeit dire, chapter was left out of classrooms and textbooks as the city attempted to erase this part of its past. The artists heard on Fire in Little Africa get to the truth through urgent songs, recalling stories told and stories lived in hope to usher in a new era for Tulsa as they help the community process this generational trauma through music.
“Fire in Little Africa is a powerful and timely project that provides a platform and outlet for the incredibly talented and thriving music community of Tulsa, Oklahoma,” said Motown Records Chairman & CEO, Ethiopia Habtemariam. “Carrying the legacy of the Black Wall Street community, Fire in Little Africa is a body of work filled with purpose and prolific storytelling. I am honored and feel privileged to have Motown Records/Black Forum partner with Dr. View, the Bob Dylan Center and Guthrie Center to release this impactful hip-hop album.”
Stevie “Dr. View” Johnson, PhD, Manager, Education & Diversity Outreach at the Woody Guthrie Center | Bob Dylan Center and the album’s executive producer, added, “Fire in Little Africa has evolved into a communal hip hop movement and we’re excited that we get to share the flavor, history and legacy of Black Wall Street with the world, in collaboration with the amazing leadership of the Motown/Black Forum family. We’re grateful for Ethiopia’s foresight in providing us an opportunity to share our important stories with the world. There are Black Wall Streets across the diaspora and we unequivocally know that Fire in Little Africa will inspire many people. In the words of Steph Simon, ‘everything is us.’”
Rolling Stone Magazine
In this feature, Rolling Stone noted, “Fire in Little Africa is poised to teach the world about that long-suppressed history, from locals who grew up in a community that still lives with the aftermath of the massacre. Just as important, the artists involved in the project also hope it serves as a launching-pad moment for Tulsa’s hip-hop scene, which has long flown under the national radar.”
The album was recorded in Greenwood over a five-day period in March 2020. Studios were set up at the Greenwood Cultural Center and other locations, including the former home of 1921 massacre mastermind/KKK leader Tate Brady. The house is now owned by former NFL first-round draft pick and Tulsa native Felix Jones.
“Fireside with Dr. View” is a weekly podcast featuring “Dr. View” in conversation with thought leaders in activism, academia and culture, centered on the movement behind the Fire in Little Africa music. Listen to “Fireside with Dr. View” below.
Hosts Ali Shaw and Doc Free sit down with Fire in Little Africa artists, Tulsa community leaders and national voices for conversations on music and culture in the “Fire in Little Africa” podcast, which can be found HERE.
Fire in Little Africa’s debut performance will be at the Black Wall Street Legacy Fest on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in the Greenwood District to commemorate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
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