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KOSU, Focus: Black Oklahoma podcast collaboration selected as Peabody Awards Nominee

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“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.

The Peabody Awards are one of the most prestigious honors in media. Thirty winners across television, radio, podcasts, and the web are honored annually as the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and streaming media during the previous year.

Out of nearly 1,300 entries, a board of jurors selected 60 finalists, including work by PBS, HBO, The New York Times and more. “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning” is one of 11 podcasts on the nominee list.

“Peabody is thrilled to continue its tradition of honoring the very best in storytelling, particularly from diverse and emerging voices,” said Monica Pearson, chairperson of the Peabody Board of Jurors. “While covering a wide array of pressing world issues and powerful human themes, all of these programs demonstrate how great art and great journalism help us see truth more clearly.”

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.

This is the latest in a series of honors for “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning.” Earlier this year, the collaboration won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and an NAACP Image Award.

The six-episode “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning” podcast explores the racial terror that destroyed the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the Tulsa Race Massacre 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 season began as an idea conceived by Focus: Black Oklahoma executive producer Quraysh Ali Lansana for broadcast on KOSU. However, in early discussions, Lansana and KOSU Executive Director Rachel Hubbard decided that the story needed more.

KOSU and Focus: Black Oklahoma brought local expertise and sources to WNYC and The History Channel, where the collaboration was then built up and shared with a national audience.

"Blindspot centered Black Tulsans and Black Tulsa voices, not just as interview subjects, but as the foundation for the vision of the entire," Lansana said. "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.

“This genre-busting work gave voice to people’s stories that had been obscured for decades. It's an honor to be able to empower the people of North Tulsa to tell their stories on a national platform,” Hubbard said.

The 30 winners of the Peabody Awards will be announced in June through a series of special online events.

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

Audiences can listen to the trailer and subscribe to “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever they get their podcasts.

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