This weekend’s George Floyd protests coincided with the 99th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The event, which was largely unknown to the public at large until The Atlantic published a Ta’Nehisi Coates’ article called The Case For Reparations, in turn inspired showrunner Damon Lindelof to recontextualize Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s iconic Watchmen graphic novel. The HBO series began with a depiction of the Tulsa massacre, and following the series finale (complete with a prevailing Hooded Justice), awareness of the continued effects of racial injustice is not lost on Lindelof. He marked the anniversary on Instagram by urging people to not only show solidarity with protesters but to really get educated on what happened in Tulsa’s Greenwood district.
In doing so, Lindelof made a number or recommendations, including all of Coates’ writings, which Lindelof stated, “[C]hanged the way I saw our country and first made me aware of what happened in Tulsa.” He also pointed towards author James Baldwin’s 1965 debate with William F. Buckley and the New York Times‘ 1619 podcast that digs into the looming shadow of slavery in America. “Educate yourself for Ahmaud and Bre and Floyd,” Lindelof urged. “[D]o it for Eric, Mike, Tamir and Philando… for so many more, TOO many more… and please, most of all, do it for Greenwood.”
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99 Years ago today, The Massacre of Greenwood began. The fires of racial injustice that decimated this utopia of black prosperity are still burning. You may not have lit them, but there’s a good chance you did nothing to put them out. I know I didn’t… and I told myself it was because I didn’t know how. For all the well-intentioned folks who want to help but don’t know how, start by educating yourself. READ ANYTHING by Ta’Nehisi Coates, whose writing changed the way I saw our country and first made me aware of what happened in Tulsa. WATCH James Baldwin debate William F. Buckley on YouTube. LISTEN to the 1619 podcast. Educate yourself for Ahmaud and Bre and Floyd… do it for Eric, Mike, Tamir and Philando… for so many more, TOO many more… and please, most of all, do it for Greenwood. God bless and stay safe. We’re all in this together.
In case you haven’t caught HBO’s Watchmen yet, that’d be another educational source to put on the list. Within the series, Lindelof reshaped his source material to “rewrite” history with a fitting amplification of the Hooded Justice character. He was the first costumed vigilante in the Watchmen universe, although he only appeared in the the supplemental pages of the graphic novel, Lindelof notably rewrote this character as a Black man (Will Reeves, played by Louis Gossett Jr.) with incredible results. In the end, the series took down the Cyclops organization that (as rendered in the series) held strong ties to the 1921 Tulsa atrocity. It was a stunning piece of storytelling and a wonderful way to honor the legacy of what was lost at Greenwood. Lindelof also marked Sunday’s anniversary in a way that urged true and lasting action — in the form of education — amid the ongoing Floyd protests.