African Americans taken to the Brady Theater during the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots
African Americans taken to the Brady Theater during the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots

CNN Films have partnered with LeBron James’ The SpringHill Company to produce a new documentary that explores the history of ‘Black Wall Street’ and the violent events of late May and June 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of the city’s African American residents.

DREAMLAND: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street, currently in production, is directed and produced by Salima Koroma (Bad Rap), and executive produced by LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Jamal Henderson, and Philip Byron of The SpringHill Company, and Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton of CNN Films.

Once a thriving community of bankers, lawyers, and business owners, the Greenwood district of Tulsa, was also a community of the descendants of American slaves. In late May 1921, a 17-year-old white woman accused a 19-year-old African American man of inappropriate behavior in an elevator inside the Drexel Building. When a white mob attempted to lynch the accused, they were rebuked by African American World War I veterans. The backlash riots in the ensuing days resulted in the destruction of 35 city blocks, and hundreds of dead African Americans. DREAMLAND: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street will reveal this history, tell the stories of the descendants of survivors, and explore the findings of the archeological search for the mass graves.

The production is a mix of archival media, contemporary interviews, and narrated elements such as letters and diary entries. It will also include footage of the near-century search for physical evidence of the mass murder that some had tried to erase from the historic record. The partners expect the film to be completed in early 2021.

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