Directors of “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” discuss film with The Black Wall Street Times

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
Published: Last Updated on
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tulsa burning black wall street times

Film Director Stanley Nelson. (David Buchan/Variety/Shutterstock)

The directors of the “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” documentary, which first aired on May 30th at 8 p.m. ET on The HISTORY Channel, sat down with The Black Wall Street Times over the summer to discuss the documentary before Centennial commemorations kick off.

The documentary is executive produced by ex-Oklahoma City Thunder player Russell Westbrook. This fall, the film was nominated for three Emmy awards, including: Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction, Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction, and Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special.

Directed by Peabody and Emmy-Award winner Stanley Nelson (“Freedom Riders”) and Peabody and duPont-Award winner Marco Williams (“Two Towns of Jasper”), the documentary commemorates the 100th anniversary of the horrific Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, one of the worst acts of racial violence in American history, and calls attention to the previously ignored but necessary repair of a town once devastated.

Elevating a case for reparations

“One of the things that the film does really well, is that you understand what reparations means a little better,” said director Stanley Nelson. 

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“People had their homes burnt, their wealth destroyed, their lives lost and got nothing. Not even investigated. Whatever form reparations takes, the film does really well in saying that it can take various forms, you kind of understand the need for some kind of reparations,” said Nelson.

The focus of the two directors when making the film was “to make people aware of the community, who they were before the massacre, efforts to rebuild following the massacre, and what is being demanded today,” according to fellow director and producer Marco Williams.

Never-before-seen footage of Black excellence

When you watch the documentary, you will witness never-before-seen footage that the directors are amazed to have viewed themeselves. “I want to reiterate how rare it is when you see footage of African Americans from that time. When you do, it’s because African Americans usually went to a black photographer in their Sunday best and posed. But the footage from Greenwood is of people doing their normal daily life”. 

The HISTORY Channel premiered its new two-hour documentary “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” on Sunday, May 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

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