History, NBA star Russell Westbrook Team for Documentary on 1921 Tulsa Massacre

Russell Westbrook at the 2017 ESPYS Awards
Russell Westbrook at the 2017 ESPYS Awards (Image credit: ESPN)

 The History Channel will team with NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook to develop a documentary focusing on the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, the network announced Thursday during its Television Critics Association tour presentation.

The two-hour documentary, Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre, will launch this spring and will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the event in which more than 300 African-Americans were killed in one of  the worst acts of racial violence in American history, according to History. The documentary takes an in-depth look at the events of a century ago, from the birth of Black Wall Street to its catastrophic downfall over the course of two bloody days, and finally the fallout and reconstruction.

Westbrook will serve as executive producer of the documentary while Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders) and Marco Williams (Two Towns of Jasper) will direct the series. 

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“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. “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.”

History will also partner with Westbrook to develop an educational and experiential campaign focused on the history and legacy of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street. 

“The History Channel is committed to educating our audience about the past, its impact on the present and its role in shaping the future,” said Eli Lehrer, Executive Vice President and Head of Programming for History. “Nearly 100 years later, the emotions from the Tulsa Race Massacre are still embedded in the fabric of our society and this poignant piece of our history is sadly relevant now more than ever, as racially charged events unfold before us during our present history. I am honored to partner with Russell, Stanley and Marco to tell this harrowing story with an authenticity and dignity only they can bring.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.