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KOSU, Focus: Black Oklahoma win NAACP Image Award for "Blindspot: Tulsa Burning" podcast collaboration

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KOSU and Focus: Black Oklahoma have won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding News and Information Podcast for “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning,” a collaboration with WNYC Studios and The History Channel.

The NAACP Image Awards honor outstanding representations and achievements of people of color in motion pictures, television, music, and literature.

This year marks the first time the awards have had a podcast category. Other nominees in the category included podcasts produced by Frontline & PBS, MSNBC and iHeartRadio.

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.

The six-episode “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning” podcast explores the racial terror that destroyed the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 100 years ago. Through conversations with descendants, historians and local activists, the series considers how the traumatic two-day attack continues to take a toll.

The podcast season began as an idea conceived by Focus: Black Oklahoma executive producer Quraysh Ali Lansana for broadcast on KOSU. Local expertise and sources were then brought to WNYC and The History Channel to be built upon and shared with a national audience.

For Lansana, it was important that the podcast be told well, but also be told authentically.

"Blindspot centered Black Tulsans and Black Tulsa voices, not just as interview subjects, but as the foundation for the vision of the entire," said Lansana. "It centered the voice of Black Tulsans from its inception to its completion, and that made a huge difference in the final product."

The stories of everyday people and voice actors reading eyewitness accounts from 1921 make the story come to life. It helps listeners understand the confusion and tragedy for Black Tulsans who lived in the 40 blocks that comprise Greenwood. Though the death toll is unknown, it's estimated hundreds lost their lives and thousands lost their homes and jobs to the destruction.

"At this moment in the country where so many states, including Oklahoma, are passing legislation to stifle or completely suppress the history of BIPOC people in the United States, what Blindspot is and what the work of Focus: Black Oklahoma is, ensures that the histories and the voices of the BIPOC community continue to be privileged and are as much of the fabric of this country as the voices of the dominant culture," Lansana said.

The Oklahoma production for this podcast was made possible in part by The Inasmuch Foundation and George Kaiser Family Foundation.

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