HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ Debut Is Opening Eyes To A Real-Life Horror From American History

Ahead of Sunday’s premiere of the new HBO series Watchmen, through which Damon Lindelof extends the graphic novel of the same name, most critics and viewers kept asking the same questions. Specifically, they were concerned about whether the show would hold true to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original vision while updating it for modern times. Once the dust had settled late Sunday night, however, most viewers were less concerned about adhering to the source material and more about the Tulsa race riot, or “Black Wall Street” massacre, of 1921.

That’s because the first eight minutes of Lindelof’s series opens with a horrifying depiction of this very-real event from African-American history. On May 31st, 1921, a mob of white Tulsa residents descended upon the city’s Greenwood District — a predominantly African-American community that was known as the “Black Wall Street” — and attacked. Even privately-owned planes from a local airfield were dispatched to the area, where they shot at residents and firebombed buildings. Dozens were killed, though a 2001 state commission’s investigation suggested that number is much higher.

Needless to say, it was a disgusting — but real — event in U.S. history, and Sunday’s Watchmen premiere opened with what many were calling its first-ever depiction in mass media.

This quickly led to a wealth of knowledge about the historical incident being shared, prompting “Black Wall Street” to start trending on Twitter.

Which was great, because some initially thought it was Lindelof and company’s way of leaning into the story’s alternate universe.