NBA star Russell Westbrook is trading his time on the basketball court for time as executive producer of a documentary.
The Washington Wizards guard is working on a historical doc to tell the underreported story of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. On Thursday (Feb. 18) Westbrook and the History Channel announced in an Instagram post that the two-hour doc, Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre, is coming Spring 2021.
Debuting ahead of the 100th anniversary, the film “will explore the history of one of the worst acts of racist violence in American history and the legacy of these events in our world today,” the post says. The special will be directed by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson and Marco Williams.
“The Tulsa Race Massacre was not something I was taught about in school or in any of my history books,” Westbrook said in a statement after playing several seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to Deadline. “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. These are the stories we must honor and amplify so we can learn from the past and create a better future.”
The city’s Greenwood District, popularly known as “Black Wall Street,” was home to wealthy and prosperous Black houses and businesses until the Tulsa riots erupted on May 31, 1921, the Daily Jstor reports. It was destroyed after angry mobs of whites called for the lynching of 19-year-old Dick Rowland after he was wrongly accused of assaulting a white elevator attendant Sarah Page, according to Tulsa History.org.
During two days of violence, the Greenwood District was burned to the ground, leaving more than 10,000 African Americans homeless and countless others out of work. The National Guard arrived to disarm Blacks, despite being outnumbered by white looters. It is reported that aerial bombs were dropped on sections of Greenwood. Two excavations have been conducted in the past 12 months in an effort to obtain an accurate death toll.
The Associated Press estimates that 300 people were killed.
National Geographic is also marking the 100th anniversary of the tragedy with a new documentary. The film, titled Red Summer, will be directed by Dawn Porter, who produced the John Lewis documentary Good Trouble. It is scheduled to premiere June 2021.