On May 31, 1921, Tulsa’s Greenwood District was thriving — a Black city within a city. By June 1, it was in ashes, leveled by a white supremacist mob. The Tulsa Race Massacre remains one of the worst incidents of racial terror in U.S. history. In six episodes, Blindspot: Tulsa Burning tells the story of a thriving neighborhood that attackers set on fire, and the scars that remain 100 years later. We consider the life of this remarkable 35 blocks of Tulsa through the stories of the survivors, descendants and inheritors of that legacy. A co-production of The HISTORY® Channel and WNYC Studios, in collaboration with KOSU and Focus Black Oklahoma. New episodes drop every Friday.
The Two Wars
When the U.S. entered World War I, W.E.B. DuBois and Tulsa lawyer B.C. Franklin saw a rare opportunity: Black Americans serving in the military might finally persuade white citizens that they deserved equal respect. But the discrimination they faced in civilian life continued in the trenches and on the homefront. After the war, white mobs plundered and burned Black neighborhoods throughout the country. And during the “Red Summer” of 1919, whites lynched more than 80 people, including Black veterans. Groups like the African Blood Brotherhood responded by urging people to defend themselves — with force, if necessary. On May 31, 1921 the fight arrived in Greenwood.
The Rise of Greenwood
The people beyond Greenwood’s borders ensured that the neighborhood could not prosper for long. To understand how and why, we travel back to the Trail of Tears and the forced resettlement of five Native American tribes. We examine the racist laws and policies that shaped the area. Despite Jim Crow segregation, the district flourished -- it even came to be called “Black Wall Street.” “The story of Greenwood is so complex,” says writer Victor Luckerson. “There's so much tragedy and trauma as part of it, but also so much inspiration.” We also meet the journalist A.J. Smitherman, legendary publisher of The Tulsa Star (one of the first Black daily newspapers in the United States) and a fierce advocate for his community.
The Past Is Present
This episode contains descriptions of graphic violence and racially offensive language.
On May 31, 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District was a thriving Black residential and business community — a city within a city. By June 1, a white mob, with the support of law enforcement, had reduced it to ashes. And yet the truth about the attack remained a secret to many for nearly a century.Chief Egunwale Amusan grew up in Tulsa — his grandfather survived the attack — and he’s dedicated his life to sharing the hidden history of what many called “Black Wall Street.” But Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, also a descendant of a survivor, didn’t learn about her family history or the massacre until she was an adult. Together, they’re trying to correct the historical record. As Greenwood struggles with the effects of white supremacy 100 years later, people there are asking: in this pivotal moment in American history, is it possible to break the cycle of white impunity and Black oppression?
Introducing Blindspot: Tulsa Burning
On May 31, 1921, the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma was a thriving city within a city -- a symbol of pride, success and wealth. The next morning, it was ashes. What happened remained a secret for almost a century.
Voices featured in this trailer include: KalaLea, Chief Eguwale Amusan, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Raven Majia Williams, and Dr. Tiffany Crutcher.
The first episode drops Friday, May 28. Subscribe now.
“The Ghost” is the nickname that Port Authority Detective Matthew Besheer and FBI Special Agent Frank Pellegrino give to the man they’ve been hunting for years but can’t quite catch: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- also known as KSM. He’s the uncle of Ramzi Yousef, and he picks up his plot to hijack planes and fly them into buildings. Without knowing his specific plans, Pellegrino and Besheer are acutely aware of the scope of KSM’s ambition, and the danger he presents to both military and civilian targets. But once again, a carefully considered plan to diffuse the threat goes awry and he melts into the ether. Soon he’ll take a meeting with Osama bin Laden and lay out the framework for what will become known as the attacks on 9/11/2001. In this final episode of the series, we trace the final steps to that fateful day.
The Falcon Hunt
It’s the late 1990s and the question tying policy makers at the highest levels of the U.S. government into knots: How should we respond to a relatively scattered group that is pulling off bloody attacks on our foreign installations and soldiers? In other words, how to deal with Al Qaeda? This is the group responsible for terror attacks such as the deadly bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. And its leader, Osama bin Laden, has promised more attacks. In this episode, we hear from officials at the center of the debate about what to do. We tell the story of a time when the CIA was sure it had bin Laden in their sights, but couldn’t get the go-ahead from the White House to pull the trigger. It’s a tale of bureaucratic hesitation and excruciating near misses … as the clock winds down toward the biggest attack of all.
Very interesting and well informed podcast.