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Blindspot: Tulsa Burning

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.

  • Blindspot: Tulsa Burning, a collaborative podcast between KOSU, Focus: Black Oklahoma, WNYC Studios and The History Channel, has been selected as a Peabody Awards Nominee.
  • 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 duPont-Columbia University Awards are considered one of the most prestigious in journalism, and this is KOSU's second win.
  • "Blindspot: Tulsa Burning," a collaborative podcast between KOSU, Focus: Black Oklahoma, WNYC Studios and The History Channel, has been chosen as a finalist for the 2022 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards.
  • The centennial of the massacre attracted international coverage; camera crews, T-shirt vendors, and even a visit from President Joe Biden. It seemed as though all this attention might ensure that history finally, would never be forgotten. But a month later some Tulsans worry that a backlash has begun.
  • Ignored, erased, silenced… But Greenwood’s trauma from 1921 persists. Resmaa Menakem — a therapist and expert on healing from conflict and violence — explains how generations of people pass down the experiences of historical events, and how racialized trauma affects us all, no matter our skin color. He and KalaLea ask, how might healing happen for the descendants of survivors and perpetrators of the massacre?
  • Over two days — May 31 and June 1, 1921 — a mob of white attackers systematically looted Greenwood and burned it to the ground. Estimates vary, but reports say the marauders killed 100 to 300 people; and they left thousands homeless, faced with the daunting task of rebuilding. We experience the attack through the eyes of lawyer B.C. Franklin and reporter Mary Elizabeth Jones Parrish — each left personal, comprehensive written accounts of those terrible days.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.